During the 80s and 90s, the best way to meet people was inside a video arcade. It was the center of activity, often being inside or near a shopping mall. Air hockey, pool, pinball, parties, pizza and soda are all fun things to share with friends and were often available in video arcades. Most video games could be played with two (or more!) players, making it the perfect social medium.
But as time went on and home computers advanced, there began to be no reason to go to a video arcade. Why bother? Just play Call of Duty on the internet, or play a game on your cell phone. There was no reason to leave your home, basically. When a game costs fifty cents or a dollar to play it, who wants to go to a video arcade and cough up a pocket of bills just to play a single game for a couple minutes?
Unfortunately, video arcades in the United States dwindled to a niche market that barely exists. The positive of these famous hangouts still remains though: the social aspect of it all. How do you meet people? In a bar? Party? What do you do? Force yourself to approach them, make small chat, pretending that you care about their interests? Video arcades made meeting people incredibly simple and totally seamless. See someone playing a game that looks like fun? Drop a quarter into the coin slot and press PLAYER 2 START. Done.
That is right. All you had to do was literally press a button, and start playing games with them, no questions asked. Then you began helping each other in the game, talking to each other, laughing and having fun. Plus the game of choice meant that the two of you had something in common.
Luckily there are some places left. Usually these places are labors of love and have games collected by people who understand this concept. For some, the nostalgia is so overwhelming that they have arcade cabinets in their own homes. In face it is not hard to own your own if you want to throw around some old-school 80s action with your kids.
Any video arcade memories you would like to share? Leave a comment.