Ye Olde Coin-Op Games

arcadehero September 17, 2011 5

(Thanks for the tip Imran!)

While our primary obsession here has to do with either coin-op video games or pinball, there was a time before the video age where you still could get coin-op fun out-of-home, it was just a little different. Often called “EM Games” (EM=Electromechanical), it was with these kinds of games that the arcade industry finds its roots. In fact Sega used to be a huge producer of EM games and they kept making quite a few even into the 70s before video games really started to take off.

Here is a photo slideshow on Yahoo!News that takes a look at some of the history of EM coin-op, going as far back as the 1800s. I actually find some charm in these kind of games as they still had to find a way to keep the player entertained enough to keep putting coins in and some of the ideas they came up with were pretty neat. Today redemption games serve as the alternative for EM although on occasion we do hear about someone making the effort to do an EM game without requiring it to vomit tickets all over the place.


  1. DarkTetsuya September 17, 2011 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Yknow I think Musee Mechanique in San Fran has a whole bunch of machines like this (in addition to several vintage and a few more modern games like NFL Blitz… like one mechanical game I specifically remember was a coin-operated take on Rock’em Sock’em Robots… was kinda neat.

  2. ECM September 17, 2011 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I actually played some of t hose types of games as a very little boy at Rye Playland in NY (just outside NYC). They had, at one point (and this would have been the late 70s) an entire arcade dedicated to them.

  3. RJAY63 September 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    There was an arcade like this in Ocean Village, Southampton before the mall was bulldozed; ran between 1987-2000. I remember those old pachinko style ‘flick a metal into a cup’ games where you could win chocolate bars or your credit back. Much better value than collecting tickets for a prize that would have cost much less had it been bought from a shop!

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