Wednesday, July 13, 2005

DIGILIFE | Arcades: A thing of the past?

In the past, any serious games player would have to be an Arcade machine player!

This was in the days before there were Playstations and advanced PC capabilities.

Only an arcade machine, with its dedicated hardware capabilities could give you “arcade realism’- a phrase commonly used in the eighties and nineties to describe top quality graphics, sound and game play.

Starting with classics like Pacman and Space Invaders, and moving onto more advanced games like Operation Wolf, Outrun and Street Fighter; home computer and console games of the eighties and early nineties could not be compared with these arcade machines.

Simply, there was no substitute for the game-playing thrills offered by an arcade machine. Of course, it also meant popping in coins for a whole day. A costly, but satisfying hobby.

Over the past ten years or so, things have changed as consoles like the Playstation 2 and Xbox gave consumers a home gaming experience of better quality than an arcade machine. Not to mention the incredible advances in PC gaming.

These ‘home developments’ coupled with Internet café’s and the rise of PC network gaming centers as the new social gathering for gamers, have resulted in the slow death of the games arcade.

It seems that there’s a ‘PC gaming center’ on every corner in the main commercial areas in Amman.

Of course, it must be acknowledged that these centers provide a very different kind of experience; as the PCs are networked, enabling players to challenge one another. Network and online gaming is a very big business. It seems arcade machines, even ones with two-player features, can’t challenge the attractiveness of network gaming.

So, what has become of the good-old arcade? Look around you here in Amman, as is the case in any city across the world. How many people do you know who regularly go to arcades? Do you even know which venues have arcade machines? Or what the latest or hottest games are? I didn’t, until I started exploring this matter a few weeks ago.

Apparently, there are a couple of ‘gaming sections’ in the big malls and shopping centers, and you’ll find the odd machine in some of the sports and recreation clubs.

The quality of the games, though, is not impressive except for the arcade at Mecca Mall at which the owner seems to have, at least, bothered to import relatively new game machines. The games themselves are not stunning, but the controls remind you of why arcade machines are still unique. You’ve got flight sticks and steering wheels, rocking-cabinets and shaking machines and many customized features that really enhance the experience. Still, the novelty of these gadgets wears off, eventually, and the fact you’ve got to put in money limits the amount of fun you can have.

Tobe perfectly honest, even the arcade I visited last week felt like it was a ‘last ditch attempt’ at re-kindling the interest of young people.

Although the era of the games arcade as we knew it is coming to an end, a different type of phase could be emerging among more mature games players who want retro-arcades, with seventies and eighties machines, to re-capture the memories of their youth.

Such “retro centers’ could emerge abroad and then arrive in the Middle East. Arcades could be back ‘in’ soon. So stay tuned!


At 6:17 AM , Blogger cc Infopage said...


Games & PC Games News - Oct. 16, 2005

Is the PC game market? (Dallas Morning News)
The last few years have not been all fun and games for computer game fans, but that might be changing. As attention has shifted to sophisticated video game consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation 2, PC gamers have watched their preferred platform wither.

Xbox 360's New Media Play Finding Fans (eWeek)
Consumers were impressed by the expanded multimedia features of Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 at the Digital Life conference, while gamers were excited to begin using the devices to access other types of services.

NewTek Releases Fifth Free Feature Update for LightWave 3D (Digital WebCast)
NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading 3D animation and video products, today announced the release of the fifth free update and the 64-bit port for Emmy award-winning LightWave 3D . Version 8.5 offers hardware support of OpenGL 2.0, the new Multishift tool with editable history, Photoshop -style texture blending modes, improved dynamics, and easier integration of third-party file formats.

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