What the hell happened to arcades? I'll tell you what happened: video games killed them. Yes, that's right. The very same phenomenon that was responsible for the arcade explosion of the 80s was also the cause of the implosion.
The potential savoir of the once glorious arcade very might well be the machine responsible for the necessity of arcades: the pinball machine. The reason arcades died is because the video game technology became portable and affordable, allowing one to play games of equal, or even better, quality at home. You can play as bad as you want and not have to plug quarters into the machine each time you loss three lives. But this home-based entertainment comes at a price.
It's not financial price, it's a spiritual price. And by spiritual I'm not talking religious; I'm talking something closer to ghosts, 'cause ghosts are cool.
We have taken the social aspect out of gaming, and entertainment as a whole. You can just sit at home and download the latest Black Keys album, watch a movie on Netflix, cheer your team on in 3D, and play poker online.
This may all be convenient, but one thing that has always been instilled in me since childhood is that I have to get the hell out of the house. My parents were in the house when I was a kid. My wife was in the house when I was married. My cats are puking and crapping on the chesterfield now that I'm divorced. During any of these time periods, I needed to get out of the house. If I wanted to play some games, I had to get out of the house. If I wanted to go see a movie, I had to get out of the house. If I wanted to buy an album, a book, or even do some banking, I had to get out of the house. I enjoyed just thinking about going somewhere. It was a glorious time. No wonder you're so angry, depressed, and unable to pay attention to anything for extended periods of time. Get the hell out of your house.
Social interaction, even if it merely involves totally ignoring the person next to you, is important. There is comfort in crowds. Interaction with different people makes one more well-rounded and polished, like a stone in a tumbler. Insular people can suffer from social retardation, but it's more befitting to say I suffer from their affliction since they are obviously oblivious.
Socially retarded people disregard lines, they yell at people they recognize from across an expansive room while your ear is inches from their mouth. They take calls during a movie, text while you're having a conversation with them, wear those pants that look like pajamas, and bring more than ten items to the express checkout. They are rude to people, right to their faces (which is totally different from me doing it vicariously in this column.) They also order sissy, fussy, fancy, creamy lattes and hold everyone up. But I already went off on that on a previous article. I just wanted to remind you to drink your coffee black.
Socially retarded people are always the last to know they are socially retarded. So if you are unaware that you are socially retarded, you probably are. So smarten up and get the hell out of your house.
Which brings me back to the arcades of yore. A resurgence of the pinball machine may be its only savior. You can't fake a pinball machine. They are huge, expensive, mechanical beasts. And even if you or a friend has one at home, you've only got one, and you're going to get bored with it. An arcade can have dozens of these spectacular monoliths. But not so fast.
In order to sustain interest, these machines are going to have to incorporate hybrid designs and technology. They will have to incorporate videos, virtual reality, motion games, karaoke, sports, band performances, and 3D. They have to be so big, cool, and costly that the only place you can play these magical, monolithic machines will be an arcade. Some will be the size of a house. That should make you more comfortable.
Date: February 24, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*