10 Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Arcade Games

80s video games


For millions, the memories of playing games in an arcade was one of the joys of growing up. Whether putting quarter after quarter into Centipede, wanting to make it one level further on Asteroids, or mashing the buttons to blow-up the Space Invaders, arcade gaming is as part of America as apple pie.

10 Things You Didn't Know About the History of Arcade GamesAs games have become more realistic, home consoles took over and the numbers of arcades around the country plunged, there has been a surge in nostalgia for the “classics.”  As it is not easy to go to the arcade anymore, many are bringing the arcade home, with authentic machines that bring back the 80s with hundreds of built-in games.

To celebrate the launch of the Legends Ultimate arcade from AtGames, a new, full-sized arcade machine that has over 300 games built-in, including classics such as BurgerTime, Tron, Asteroids, Zoo Keeper, Centipede, Missile Command, and Tetris, the company has put together a list of “10 Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Arcade Games.”

  1. The inventor of Tetris, Aleksej Pazjitnov, didn’t get any money from his game until about 10 years after its release. He was a Soviet computer scientist and the USSR took all the money he would have gotten.
  2. In addition to starting Atari, Nolan Bushnell also founded the popular pizza and entertainment company, Chuck E. Cheese (speaking of a popular arcade venue!), then known as Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre.
  3. In 1971, Computer Space was the first mass-produced coin-operated arcade video game.
  4. Super Mario wasn’t originally known as Mario, he was formerly known as Jump Man.
  5. Space Invaders main game mechanic (the speeding up of the enemies as they are destroyed) happened entirely by accident. Early hardware couldn’t handle keeping track of all the ships, so the game ran at a relative crawl. As the player destroyed enemies, the hardware could start to cope and the game sped up.
  6. The number of video game arcades in North America more than doubled between 1980 and 1982.
  7. The American obsession with arcade games peaked in 1981. Time Magazine reported that in that year alone Americans spent $20 billion worth of quarters on arcade games – which was twice the income of every casino in Nevada.
  8. One of the earliest video games was created by a physicist. In October 1958, William Higinbotham created Tennis for Two. Its gameplay was similar to the later Pong and was displayed on an oscilloscope instead of the traditional TV-style screen.
  9. Tempest was one of the first video games with a progressive level design where the levels themselves varied rather than giving the player the same layout with increasing difficulty.

    10. The all-time highest score on Asteroids is 41,838,740, set by Portland’s John McAllister in a 2010 game that lasted for 58 hours.

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