Long before we could kill zombies, build cities, and defend the Nexus (League of Legends) from the comfort of our sofa on a console or mobile, we would venture out to amusement arcades. Standing effortlessly for hours, depositing coin after coin, hunched over, and committed to our video game of choice.

Many entertainment trends from the 80s have either been replaced or exchanged for advanced versions – but never forgotten.

For a couple of 80s entertainment trends to trigger your nostalgia, see below:

  • CDs (compact discs) were an upgrade from their predecessor, vinyl records. Sony made the first Discman, which was a hit among music fanatics. Although still used today, CDs are considered retro by a lot of people as first MP3s and now streaming has taken over as people’s music format of choice.
  • Video rental stores such as Blockbuster. Its success back then is likened to how Netflix is used and perceived today. It was the most convenient way to browse and rent movies.

The popularity of arcades in the 80s
Arcades were at the top of most kids’ and teenagers’ hobby lists in the 80s. Children would spend hours at the arcade using up their pocket money and collecting arcade tokens. They would fight to get their name at the top of the leaderboard. The ultimate honour in your local arcade.

Players would take the time to physically go to arcades because home video and console games weren’t very good quality and were still quite expensive. The arcades, however, had the buzz, the noise, the smells, the visceral experience that increased the sense of competition and excitement. The arcade also enabled family and friends to socialise and play games together. As some of the arcade games required skill and memory, many kids even enjoyed just watching other superior players to master their gaming techniques.

Popular arcade classics
There were many arcade favourites back in the 80s, and here we have collated a short list of some of the classics that are still played today!

Donkey Kong
Released by Nintendo in 1981, it had the first appearance of Mario, in the guise of ‘Jumpman’. The mission of Donkey Kong was to move Jumpman through a construction site riddled with obstacles and to fight off fire and barrels with a hammer. To win the game, Jumpman would need to get to the top and save the girl. The game was always a classic but has also been immortalised in the documentary ‘The King of Kong’.

Released by Namco in 1980, the Pac-Man character had to work through a maze while eating dots and steering clear of ghosts on the screen. In the US in 1981, a staggering 250 million games of Pac-Man were being played each week. Pac-Man was one of the first games that attracted a wide audience. Young and old, male and female, everyone joined playing this game. The character has become an iconic symbol of video gaming.

Released by Namco in 1981, Galaga was the sequel to the popular Galaxian. The game had a starfighter positioned at the bottom of the screen. You could move the fighter left, right, and trigger the shooter to destroy incoming aliens. Galaga sold 90,000 arcade machines worldwide. For many people it was made most famous by its appearance in the classic 80s film WarGames.

Out Run
Out Run was released by Sega in 1986. It became one of the most successful arcade games in the second half of the 80s, when home consoles and computers were starting to try to compete with arcade graphics. One of the things that made Out Run so successful was that it allowed to pick your own music, adding that extra level of customisation to the experience. The music tracks in the game are some of the best in-game music of all time. Another reason you had to play this in the arcade was that it had an amazing hydraulic operated sit down cabinet that looked like the car in the game.

The end of the golden age of arcade games
The golden age of arcade games began to recede in the late 80s, as the quality of home gaming massively increased. Sadly arcades began to shut down and they started to became smaller places that were often visited in addition to other nearby activities. For instance, if people are waiting to see a movie, they might venture into the nearby or on-site arcade for a game or two.

As the internet emerged and later advanced in the millennium, it wasn’t just arcades that noticed a change in footfall. So did many other areas in the entertainment industry. Faster connections and cheap servers changed multiple industries such as TV, retail, music, and gaming. Monthly subscriptions for streaming services like Netflix meant that people could access a wide range of films for one fee rather than paying out numerous times to go to the cinema and watch one film.

The gaming industry was also hit by technology advancements with many being able to access video games online, and so they stopped visiting arcades and gaming shops to purchase a newly released game. Land based casinos were another venue that saw less visitors as the developments in technology saw the transition of casino games moving online. More people preferred the convenience side of online casino games and could play a game of poker or blackjack whenever they wished rather than getting ready and venturing to a casino. The security features of an online casino are also an attraction to many as people could remain anonymous if they wish. The boom of online casinos has meant that they are now many providers entering the market and competing for players to play their games and sign-up to their sites. Players are advised to ensure they are signing up to a fully legal secure site as well as taking advantage of some of the bonuses and promotions on offer.

Arcade games influence lives On
Arcade gaming formed the basis for a lot of the video games and consoles long after the arcades started shutting down. Furthermore, arcade gaming characters, such as Pac-Man and Mario, are still hugely popular today, and you can purchase the logos and characters on clothing, bags and many other accessories.

The arcade games of the past still trigger fond memories for people from the seventies and eighties. And while the games in arcades have adapted somewhat, arcades are still a fun place to visit – albeit much more expensive than they used to be. The great thing for arcade gamers is that there are more and more retro arcades opening up across the world, where owners are lovingly restoring machines for new (and old) generations to enjoy.

Although games may have changed, the reasons to play remain the same. People like to get sucked into games for entertainment, escapism, to socialize, and to beat their friends. That’s something all games, from retro arcade shooter games to mobile-optimized racing games, have in common, and that gaming spirit will never die.