First, we need to determine why people go to an arcade in the first place. There are several reasons why someone might want to go there, but I’ll only touch on what I think are the most important. This list isn’t any particular order, just how they popped into my head.

1. Socialization. We’ve all heard stories of the stereotypical video game player. For that matter, maybe some of us arethe stereotypical video game player. What better place to meet other people that share the same, or at least similar, interests as you do than your local arcade? They have all the latest games and all the junk food you could possibly want. It’s almost like a perpetual party for game geeks.

2. You can play the latest games. Any arcade worth its salt is going to (attempt to) have the latest and greatest games. That’s good for them because they want to make money. That’s good for me because I can play the latest games without having to spend a fortune to do so.

3. The experience. This, I believe, is the single most important reason to go to an arcade. To get an experience that you could not (easily) get at home. In days past, you would have to go to the arcade to play games that you just couldn’t play anywhere else. The power of the video arcade machine was far and above what was readily available to just about anyone else in the world. Sure, there were arcade conversions of some of the more popular games, but they were never as good as their arcade counterparts. So to get the full experience of whatever the game of the week was, you had to go to the arcade.

So what happened to the arcades? Well, consoles happened. The power of the console-based video game systems has gotten to the point that they are nearly as powerful as the units that you can find in your local arcade, at least graphically so. So then it comes down to a matter of money. Do you go to the arcade to play Soul Calibur for an hour or so or do you go to Blockbuster and use that same five dollars to rent the game and play it all night? A lot of people are going to take that second option and not think twice about it.

So what are arcades to do? The arcade game manufacturers are kind of in a pickle. They realize that they have to give people what they can’t get at home, and then they have to make them think that they need it. So you then end up with nothing but gimmicky game machines all over the place. In one local arcade, for instance, out of eleven game machines, three of them have joysticks. Now don’t get me wrong, I like playing Dance Dance Revolutionor Time Crisis 3 as much as the next guy, but I also like the occasional round of Ms. Pac-Man or Spider Man once in a while.

At this point, you are probably wondering to yourself, “Well, that’s all well and good, but what does he want?” The truth of the matter is, it really doesn’t matter what I want. What matters is that the arcades of at least this area stay open so that I can go to them and play the dwindling number of classic arcade games and still play some of the newest machines, even if those machines don’t have joysticks.