Arcade games have always in a class of their own in how they present themselves and how they are played. There are certain things that work best in video games found in an arcade environment while on the flipside there are certain elements of home games that work better when time is not so much of an issue.
This article on Gamasutra by Xavi Fradera, who formerly worked for arcade developer Gaelco, dives into game design and how increasingly popular “Free To Play” PC games can learn a thing or two from real arcade games. In the process he covers elements that still apply to games being made in the arcade world, as the requirement still happens to be giving players enough bang for their buck, presented in such a way that they will want to keep playing over and over again. If any part of the presentation in an arcade game isn’t properly polished, it can mean disaster as the customer may be turned off from inserting that next coin. It’s a battle that requires game designers to find that balance between challenge and reward, innovation and proven methods. It isn’t an easy one to fight but when it is found you generally have a game worth playing. Xavi also makes some points about what you find in arcade titles, from the player perspective – they are cheap, impulsive and satisfying. I would add that the arcade experience allows you to more easily have a vicarious entertainment experience since you are often presented with a realistic physical item to control what happens, like a gun or driving wheel.
As a matter of discussion, which arcade games do you think feature both the best and worst design features and why? Comment!