I think a lot of serious value came from that experience, and I really wish it were possible for youngsters to have a similar kind of environment, in this day and age .. alas, with the appstore/walled-gardens, its not so easy to get inside the boxes and have a look, although I do think that my kids are going to gain a great deal of experience from the independent gaming community, the Open Pandora/Pyra and emu-scene .. once they get enough of an interest in how things are working in order to stop playing the games of the zeitgeist.
I remember when Scramble came out, how revolutionary it was to have a side-scroller .. and then when R-type/Gradius hit the scene, WOW! It was an evolutionary progression that I don't think many see, these days, in the modern arena. Does the Nintendo Switch provide such inspirations? I guess I'll have to dig deeper to see if there is an indie scene on that platform .. for the sake of my kids.
As a computer nerd the 1980's was a great time to come of age - ignoring the twin threats of imminent nuclear war and AIDS. A generation saw the home computer become a reality. Particularly in the UK where, thanks to people like Sir Clive, Curry, Furber, Wilson, Hauser as well as the good old BBC, for a couple of years it seemed all to be happening on the doorstep. I felt a similar thrill years later at University when I got into BBS's and using fidonet to send electronic messages that got anywhere in the world within 24 hours.
OK, you kids get off my lawn.
The sound was single channel, procedural, driven by a priority system.
Supreme example of how to make a compelling player experience.
I reached good mastery of that game. Took a while, but man! Oh, so worth it.
I will to this day, drop everything and play that one on sight.
I can go online and see the source code of fully working games and even some older AAA games by just right clicking and "View Source" for html5 games or code dumps of older AAA games. Being able to access the source code for Super Mario Bros. was something of a dream to me when I was little! If you want to see what a full scale production 3D modeling/rendering package looks like you can go and look Blender's. I had to learn my 3D game programming concepts from books full of code that never linked or even compiled and hacked copies of POV Ray that never compiled or ran. Forget about even seeing the source for commercial packages like 3D Studio or Lightwave. For database stuff there is PostgreSQL and together with NodeJS, NginX can be set up in an evening to play with. I learned database stuff in a computer lab and some academic version of Oracle. Unfortunately I can imagine a future where software is much less accessible than it is now.
Even in hardware there are things like Arduino and Pi that make prototyping a lot more accessible than before.
lots of fiddling for the current best experience but totally can blow you away. you can't imagine what it's like - you have to experience it to understand.
also... tesla/spacex... and tons of other things. tech is evolving very quickly. Tech history is being made much faster than it was back then
For me I think the arcade experience is now more about the controls map to the games. (track ball/ nob/ flight yoke) for games like missile command/centipede , tempest, star wars).
The have "shows" now were people haul their machines to a hall and let the public play. For example the "california extreme expo"
I find this blog about restoring and finding old machines fun :
It's keeping pinball machines running that is a true challenge. I only have five of my nine games playable right now, and two of those have small problems that don't effect game play but the games themselves aren't 100%. Something about a steel ball hurling around and coils firing seems to cause all kinds of breakage on 20-30 year old games only designed to last 5 years.
That plus consoles and PCs began to have the same graphics capabilities as arcade games at a reasonable price. No sense in pumping endless quarters into a machine you have to beg your parents to take you to when they can just as easily buy the console version to play at home.
Rhythm games like DDR, Para Para, or Bemani are something else entirely. There's still no great way to play those at home without a bunch of special hardware.
Although I'm not sure I agree 100% with your last comment. Many of my friends bought DDR home versions and Guitar Hero/Rock Band accessories aplenty when they were popular. A lot of folks were certainly willing to shell out for the extra hardware.
Check out Jersey Jack Pinball, Spooky Pinball and American Pinball.
We often got to play after hours for free, and Street fighter and mortal combat were favourites.
Most importantly, arcade games by their nature are finite. The limits of whatever storage medium used as well as the inability to rewrite or update them easily means that they exist in a vacuum. Once you've 'explored' the levels or found the 'secrets' they cease to be new. There are no more secrets. The strategy to beat single-player games never changes.
However the person you're playing against in a fighting game is always going to be different. Even if they play the same character as another person they will play them differently. They will have different skill levels and unique weak points to attack. No round of a fighting game is ever exactly the same. This is why fighting games are beautiful. They turn a static game into something timeless. There are still weekly Street Fighter 2 tournaments all over the world. When was the last time you competed with tens of other friends in say, Qbert 25+ years later?
And it's not as simple as just 'memorizing' the combos if you never play well enough to get yourself in a position to land them. There's still a journey there both outside the game to learn and inside the game to break down the patterns in your opponent's play that will never be present in a single-player game. That's what keeps fighting games interesting and new 20+ years later for me.
I do enjoy some games of this type like Robotron that have enough variation in the random patterns of the enemies to still feel fresh. I also love games like Pole Position or Outrun that have well-defined endings and force you to play 'perfectly' like you describe. However most games of this earlier time period are unfortunately just not designed that way.
The skill ceiling rising was mostly due to consoles, and I'd put it during the dreamcast/psone era when fighters started becoming really intricate.
Then the first color game I saw was Cosmic Alien. I dropped a lot of quarters down that hole.
Also, The Video Game Years is an excellent series on console gaming which highlights the broader atmosphere (mostly in the US) around each device, spanning the late 70s to late 80s: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC2468FB35ED2DAC2 (edit: Forgot to mention, skip to 1980 for less babbling and more info. It's one of those series that gets better in later episodes.)
There's actually a ton of other good retro-gaming channels on YouTube that I've found to be on par with or better than the more well known gaming documentaries.
I recently got a HORI Real Arcade Pro and it's excellent.
The other thing that makes MAME feel off is the screen. 27" iMac may be a very good screen, but it's not a good CRT with the glowing pixels of the past.
...Particularly Killer Queen.
(Me too, but only recently)
Sure one could argue these are just different game modes of established genres, but where to draw that line, how to define a "genre"? Imhho it's the same as with music, there are no clear-cut lines, concepts just bleed into each other, adopt each other, creating entirely new concepts in the process.
Our modern gaming landscape is amazingly diverse, people who think games had been more "original back then" are usually remembering things through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia.
Tho I wouldn't be too surprised to see an arcade like this in the Asian region. Online Multiplayer (not massive but with quite a few players) also made it's way to the arcade, complete with your own profile on a storage device so you can take it along to different arcade venues.
At shows like PAX there's usually a special section/event just for arcades, which has also become a rather experimental sector showing off arcade games like Killer Queen.
It's a really diverse space, the issue being that only very little of it bubbles up to the "mainstream".
I think Mario Bros was the last of the arcade style games I was really into. Though I remember a skateboard game called 720 Air that was pretty good....oh, and pinball.
A lot of these games are extremely difficult and require twitch reflexes, which is something a game burdened with pushing a lot of pixels has trouble replicating.
I have a Retropie loaded with tons of games all the way up into the 90's and my 3-year-old son mostly plays the older stuff - it seems to resonate with him more than the newer games.
It's not that they have trouble replicating it, they are intentionally avoiding it. With higher fidelity comes higher development costs, so they have to sell more copies to make a profit. One way to do that is to make games easier. People in general want games that can be completed with the least amount of effort on their part.
Here's an example of one in Redmond WA, I think there are at least a couple more in Seattle: http://odyssey-vr.com/