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What made arcades so archaic?

1/23/2013

Arcades were once the place where great minds could come together and debate the timeless questions like, “Who would win in a fight between a bikini-clad cheerleader and a horseman with four arms and butterfly wings?”                

The evolution of arcade gaming died with the drastic improvement of home consoles and PC games, leaving money generators like Merle Hay Mall’s Lazer-X instantly obsolete. What was arguably one of the most expensive daycare schemes invented by man is now an anachronism. Downtown’s All Play fills that void with retro arcade games and laser tag, but there’s still something in the definition of “arcade” that is missing. The coin operated mechanisms have been replaced with credit cards, eliminating one of the last uses for coins, and increasing costs to play makes arcades a waste.                

The early 2000s saw a boom in the cyber cafe, the successor to the arcade, where people could eat and drink at a computer to work or play games. Even Des Moines got to experience the trend during the nine years of Click’s, a full bar with gaming PCs available to all ages that originally opened in Urbandale in 2003 and moved to Valley West Mall from 2005 until it closed last year. It was a great place to hang out and share experiences with other geeks, but faster Internet speeds at home made those kinds of venues obsolete in a relatively small area.               

On top of that, there are still modern arcades with modern game technology that can’t exist anywhere else, but you’re likely to see it in a casino or amusement park and end up spending parts of your paycheck instead of allowance for such sophisticated games. But all this raises the question: Is it time for an arcade renaissance? Could there be a market for a full service arcade aimed at all audiences? And would it be viable? CV

Robert Anhalt is Director of Content at Geek Speak Forum and contributes to Cityview.

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