The first arcade game was built by Stanford students in 1971. It was called Galaxy Game and was designed for use on home computers. Although it was never produced or released to the masses, it paved the way for the programmer Nolan Bushnell to create the first commercial arcade game in the form of Computing Space in 1972.
Nolan founded the company Atari in order to continue making these types of games, and their success continued until rival company Taito destroyed Atari’s tennis-themed release with the ever-popular Space Invaders in 1978.
Throughout the 80s there were a number of hits constantly produced, with Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Galaxian all reaching dizzying heights of popularity. Soon these games appeared in public spaces, allowing more and more players to access them. Arcades soon became a way of life, with many young adults flocking there of an evening just to put a few coins in and play the game, all vying to beat each other’s top scores.
However, it was not to last, with the advent of video primarily blamed for the arcade’s decrease in popularity. As Nintendo and Sega came into play supplying games for the home, players no longer had to leave their houses to enjoy the games. This is similar to the way in which physical slot machines – once a fixture in bars and indeed arcades – have also waned in popularity. As with arcade games, advances in technology saw gaming companies transfer these games to a virtual format, allowing more people faster access to them and to have better playing times.
For both arcades and slots, it was virtually impossible to compete with their online counterparts and so, slowly but inexorably, the days of the pulsating and jam-packed arcades came to a close. There are still some arcades dotted about, but these are sadly few and far between.