In comparison to other forms of entertainment such as movies, books, and music, video gaming is nearly in its infancy. As video games draw more and more individuals with its lure of interactive amusement, it seems as if people are less and less occupied by the other aforementioned hobbies. However, due to its solitary nature, are videogames distancing people from one another, or is gaming merely allowing us to branch out and correspond with others in a different way?
For most of the gaming age, hardcore gamers were the ones that spent their time in an arcade. Arcade machines were far more powerful than anything a gamer could efficiently fit in their homes, so amusement was found in seedy bars and locations of ill repute. Soon after videogames became more accepted and marketable towards children, they found their ways into more locations, where people feed quarters into favorite games like Mrs. Pac-Man and Asteroids. Fast forward some years to the release of Street Fighter II, the game that arguably set the arcade scene on fire. Arcades were rarely more packed or popular than after the release of Capcom's seminal fighting game, which created and nearly perfected the formula for 2-D fighters that still has yet to be innovated on.
Gaming then was nearly as much a social event as a game of basketball or baseball. While oftentimes one could find themselves honing their skills against the computer, it usually didn't take long before another gamer would come along to gauge your skill level from over your shoulder. A quarter would then be placed on the arcade cabinet, which was analogous to the medieval glove slap that signified a challenge to a duel.
Gaming in those days happened in the arcades. Home translations never did the arcade machine justice, and the "gaming elite" chose to frequent arcades or anyplace that held their favorite games. Street Fighter II soon gave way to numerous clones, including games like Mortal Kombat, World Heroes, and Fatal Fury. Capcom even capitalized on their success, releasing numerous updates to the Street Fighter II game as well as starting the Alpha series and the Marvel Superheroes game.
Arcade gaming was a social sport that forged and broke friendships. People traded secrets, strategies, and swear words at the arcades. However, a funny thing happened. The advent of technology made it possible to possess consoles that were as powerful as the arcade machines. It was no longer necessary to go to an arcade to get the best experience out of a game and gamers understandably began to spend less time in arcades and more time at home.
That wasn't the end of social gaming though. Two player games still drew buddies together to challenge one another in games of Madden or Tekken. Certain games still encouraged socialization between friends with like interests, although the socialization moved from the open arcade to the privacy of the living room or bedroom.