Synopsis (well it’s more like an essay from the website):
Do you remember the old arcades?
In 1982, arcade video games were everywhere. Everyone was playing them, young and old alike, accountants, housewives and children. At the time, you could play a state-of-the-art computer game anywhere except at home: at Aladdin’s Castle in your mall, your local Chuck-E-Cheese or Showbiz Pizza Place, the corner 7-11 or even in the reception area of your dentist’s office. It was a $7 billion dollar a year industry, earned one quarter at a time, and it had emerged practically overnight. It disappeared just as quickly. By 1985, America was in the throes of a deep recession, the home gaming market had been glutted with inferior product, and many people stopped playing video games. Their novelty had run its course. The fad of the arcade ended and game rooms across the country shuttered. Game over!
But why did the arcades go away? And what happened to all of those games? Twenty five years later you can still occasionally find a classic arcade game “in the wild.” But when you do, more often than not, it’s a ghostly reminder (Inky, Blinky, Pinky or Clyde?) of its former glory; when you drop your quarter in the coin chute—assuming it doesn’t get stuck—you find the joystick no longer works or the monitor is out of adjustment, with decades of burn-in, caked in so much dust you can no longer make out any of the formerly colorful sprites. The artwork, too, has been ripped off or tagged with graffiti, abused by cigarette stains, decades’ worth of wear and tear. Someone experiencing a classic game in such condition for the first time may naturally be lead to wonder what was the big deal with these games anyway?
Well, sit back, kids, and listen to our tale! The golden era of the arcade, 1979 to 1984, represented a period of unmatched creativity. Yes, the graphics and sounds of the old games are shockingly rudimentary but many still argue that their game play will never be rivaled. Not coincidentally, the aforementioned years also saw a new generation—children of baby boomers, later dubbed “Generation X”—come of age. It’s hard to find someone from this age group who doesn’t have fond memories of their formative years spent in the arcades: the cacophonous sounds and the smells of burning phosphor and bad pizza. It was, for many, the locus of our entertainment: a hang-out after school, the place to go on weekends, a way to while away the long, hot summers, to socialize, celebrate birthdays and, yes, even occasionally have their first awkward encounters with members of the opposite sex.
In 1978, video games usurped pinball in popularity. The hardware that drove the early evolution in gaming, laid the foundation for an industry that now exceeds $18.8 billion annually in home sales. CPUs and TTL logic were finally affordable enough to be mass-produced. Space Invaders, released that year, caused a yen shortage in Japan. The following year, color and vector monitors arrived, bringing added realism and speed—and, with them, a revolutionary new form of entertainment.
Initial development costs were low and profits astronomically high. The watershed success of Asteroids in 1979 and Pac-Man in 1980 led to the formation of many new companies hoping to capitalize on this novel form of entertainment. The rules for what make a good game had not yet been written. The marketplace seemed to reward creative risk-taking. Since game software could be developed in a matter of months instead of years, and often by a single programmer working in front of a terminal, no idea was consider too outlandish to at least try. Games about flying ostriches and escaped monkeys, a bubble in a kitchen sink, a vanguard of alien fleets, mother kangaroos, menacing centipedes, hapless frogs trying to cross against traffic, and cities in need of nuclear defense could all exist in the same place at the same time. That place was your local arcade. There was practically no learning curve for most of these games. A few instructions might exist on the control panel or the bezel but they were largely ignored. The games, in general, all operated the same way: insert coin, press the start button, and enjoy two or three minutes of unadulterated bliss, transported, at least for the duration of the game, into an alternate existence.
THE SPACE INVADERS is now available to purchase through AMAZON/