During Christmas shopping season of '82, Aladdin's Castle at our mall was so busy there was a waiting line to get in due to fire codes. As people left, more were let in. I think the sign out front said the capacity was 115 people.
The mall arcades were dimly lit but very clean and family friendly. No food, drinks or smoking allowed. We had a huge arcade in town that also had about a dozen pool tables. It never had that cool arcade feel as it had commercial tile floors, white walls and ceilings all brightly lit. Music from the jukebox was loud and great and the games were always kept in perfect condition.
Then there were the mini arcades in places like Montgomery Ward and Sears. Usually all black rooms with dim lighting and maybe dozen games at most. Cool place to hang out if the mall's main arcade was too busy. Even department stores like K-Mart got in on it too. If they didn't have the dedicated arcade room, there would at least be a bunch of games near the entrance.
Most pizza places had dedicated rooms but Showbiz Pizza was the ultimate as the whole place was like a giant arcade.
The local roller rink was incredible. Games were placed anywhere they had an open space and the loud music and lighting made it the perfect experience.
Don't believe I ever experienced a disgusting dive arcade in the early 80s. The games were in the $3,000 range and operators protected their investment.
By '88 it was Game Over for that magic era. Mainly the big mall arcades lingered on and by the 90s they were ghost towns featuring crappy fighters, overpriced drivers that were like carnival rides, redemption games and the obligatory beat to hell Galaga and Ms. Pac.