There is a subject we kick around here on Arcade Heroes every once and a while and that is what is it that modern arcades are aiming to do that is unique in the gaming world? This year marks the 40th anniversary of Pong and thus the 40th year in which video games and arcade video games in particular have been a part of the culture.
The CTO of arcade game maker Raw Thrills, Andrew Eloff was interviewed by Josh Neland of Electronic Design about modern arcades and technology. He bills it as ” If you want to understand what we do in 30 seconds, look no further.” It’s not a terribly long interview but it does get into the essence of what special advantage arcade games can offer over games you play at home or on your phone. Take a read here. He talks about the evolution of technology in arcades and what it is about a modern title that makes them stand out, which to boil down briefly is that they have moved more into the realm of simulators than just gaming boxes. Mr. Eloff notes that with extra resources, they would be working on something like the Holodeck from Star Trek, which I agree is the direction that we are eventually headed although it will probably still be a while before we get there. But if that is any indication then arcades have good prospects well into the 24th century with technology like that!
My own thoughts on this, to dive further on the subject aren’t a secret and in my new, still unnamed book (I’m calling it a Book With No Name for the moment, a play on this gaming forum’s name) I actually have dedicated a whole chapter to the subject of technology and arcades. It’s actually become such a large part of the book that I’m considering splitting it in two parts as there are plenty of historical examples to pull from that emphasize the real advantage arcades can have in creating a unique gaming experience that is done in good part by the hardware the user has in their hands to control the situation. Even though trends have been towards Kinect style motion technologies, I think that gamers have quickly realized that something like Kinect is good for an enhancement but not always the total replacement of the whole gaming experience. Sure there are some games that pull it off well like dancing games but racing games – not so much. Perhaps that will change over time but I can’t say that aside from a small handful of titles, I have not heard of many killer apps for Kinect. That’s not saying that it is a bad technology by any means but it seems more enjoyment has been got out of hacking it or using other non-game features then there are for the games themselves. That’s just my impression on it so far.
Of course I have been a constant advocate for other genres to get some love back in arcades and I have said before that when it comes to games based around vehicles, arcades really should be way ahead of the crowd. We have the racing genre pretty well covered but take any vehicle you can imagine – a tank, a mech, a submarine, a fighter jet, a train, a boat, a spaceship, a motorcycle, a bike, etc. and what you can do with that in arcades doesn’t have to be limited to a simulation of that vehicle, but can branch out into many unique forms that give us a gaming experience worth paying for over and over again. There are examples I could cite but I won’t bore you this time around. Suffice it to say I think that the simulator angle is here to stay with arcades and seeing it develop further is one thing we have that is worth looking forward to on the arcade scene.