The History of Arcade Games
In the Beginning
The first game to join the arcade family was skee ball, invented in 1909 by J.D. Estes in Philadelphia. Originally designed to be 36 feet long and played outside, the lanes were shortened to 14 feet in 1928 to accommodate a more diverse audience.
The year 1931 marked the introduction of both the first coin-operated machine and the first pinball game: Baffle Ball. The game did not have the usual pinball flippers, but instead launched ten balls onto the playing field for one US cent. The balls could only be aimed by adjusting the power at which they were fired; because of this Baffle Ball was seen as a game of chance, associated with gambling and other unsavory forms of entertainment. It took until 1947 for the familiar flippers to be added to the bottom of arcade pinball machines, transforming its reputation into that of a more family-friendly game of skill.
We Have the Technology
The first coin-operated video game was installed in Stanford University in September of 1971. Titled Galaxy Game, it cost roughly $115,000 after adjusting for inflation and cost 10 cents to play one game. The first commercially successful arcade video game was Pong, developed by Atari and released in 1972. Pong paved the way for video games both in arcades and out, eventually selling more than 35,000 units. In the decade to follow, 15 separate companies began producing video games of their own. Gun Fight, released in 1975, was the first title to use its own microprocessor.
The Golden Age
In 1978 Tiato Corp released Space Invaders, which would go on to become one of the most popular arcade games of all time. Its release heralded the start of the golden age of video games and was a catalyst for rapid advancement and proliferation of what was soon to become a worldwide pastime. Atari released Asteroids the following year, selling 70,000 arcade cabinets. Pac-Man released in 1980 and made more than $3.4 billion after adjusting for inflation; the little yellow character quickly became a pop culture icon. The subsequent years saw the release of titles like Donkey Kong, Frogger, Galaxian, Centipede, Dig-Dug and Tron.
In 1982 the arcade video game industry produced $12 billion in revenue. Sales only began to slow in 1985 with the US release of the Nintendo Entertainment System and later the Sega Master System, beginning a switch in emphasis to home gaming systems.
Although popularity has flagged due to the diversity and prevalence of home gaming options, arcade games of all kinds still occupy a niche in today’s market among casual gamers and die-hard fans who can’t get enough of the classics.
Play, a neighborhood bar in Pensacola, Florida, strives to preserve the feeling of the old-fashioned arcade, and makes it even better by throwing alcohol, food, trivia, karaoke and other great stuff in the mix! Stop by tonight to play some of the best games of all time, including The Claw, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Galaga, Street Fighter, Pinball, Silver Strike Hunter, Big Buck Hunter, skee ball, air hockey and much more.