A Brief History of Arcade Games

Arcade games go back as far as the 1920s when amusement parks consisted of shooting galleries, fortune tellers and the type of slightly creepy mechanical music that you instantly think of when you think old-fashioned arcades.

The original games consisted of things such as ball-toss games where you paid someone to have a go at throwing a ball to knock a prop off its stand or a ring toss game where the idea was to toss a ring over a post, or even basic shooting galleries with simple targets. All of the games were played to win prizes and you would hand your coins over to the assistant to start the game.

Next up where the coin-operated pinball machines that didn’t need the supervision of an attendant, although these didn’t arrive until the 1930s. These machines were all made of wood and were very basic. They didn’t have the flashing lights or the electronic scoring that we are so familiar with now. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that we started to see the fully electronic pinball machines come into play.

Sega have always been one step ahead of the game and this was the case for the early years as well as the later ones. They came out with the first electro-mechanical game – a game called Periscope. Periscope was an early submarine simulator and light gun shooter. The set up was using lights and plastic waves to simulate the ships sinking from a submarine and cost a quarter per play. Taito was also a major player early on and released its own version of a simulated football game using similar electronic versions of pinball flippers as though found in Periscope. Throughout the 1970s, arcade games developed rapidly with Pong being a turning point for Sega as one of the first electronic video-games on the market. Taito reappeared in around 1978 with its break-through game Space Invaders which turned out to be a massive blockbuster video arcade game.