WARNING: This blog is a total "old timer nostalgia complaint", so take it for what it's worth.
Some of my fondest gaming memories came from trips to old arcades. Pumping endless amounts of quarters into the latest and greatest games. Putting up quarters to "get next" on fighting game cabinets in smoky pool halls. After a recent trip to a large chain restaurant full of arcade games and macrobrew beers, I realized that there is certainly a fundamental shift in the GENRE of games still left standing after the economic collapse of the old school arcades. Contrast this with a trip to a mini golf course that actually had an old tabletop Pong machine that warmed my old dusty heart, and it got me thinking: "When did America fall in love with Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter?"
I totally understand that arcades aren't a readily viable enterprise anymore. However, back in the 80's and early 90's, there was more genre diversification for game cabs. I still remember my local pizza parlor having Ninja Clowns; an awesomely bad 3rd tier brawler featuring clowns assaulting hippies and workaday suits. There were also the ubiquitous Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat cabinets. It seems all these types of games, and even stalwarts like Pac Man, have disappeared and been replaced by two genres. Racers and lightgun games. Oh, and Golden Tee.
My guess is the simplest answer (most passersby want a very casual experience) is the correct one. However, I still can't wrap my head around why these two genres just came to utterly dominate the landscape. I'd consider Donkey Kong or Galaga as quick and casual as a round of Big Buck Hunter, so why have all these other types of games been almost completely diminished? I love House of The Dead as much as the next guy, but do we really need THAT many movie license tie-in lightgun games? During the 8-bit and even 16-bit era of consoles, many styles and genres of arcade games flourished alongside the home consoles and PC titles. I'm curious if it is simply economic viability and boardroom metrics that lead us to believe people only enjoy racers when they choose to partake in public displays of gaming? You'd think someone somewhere would be trying to capitalize on the nostaligia of folks like me and mass producing classic games I grew up with for local restaurants and other businesses to rent, rather having them relegated to isolated instances like your FunSpot's and Barcades.
I know arcades are popular in other countries, and in places like Japan fighting games still have a prescence. Has anyone else noticed this where they live? Or does your local barbershop have a working copy of D&D:Tower of Doom? (I really hope it does.)
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