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Did home consoles kill the arcade?

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The type of arcade games had to change, to something that still can't be replicated at home so well.  If you walk into a Round 1 these days, you'll see mostly skill cranes, a few pinball machines, skee-ball, "Down the Clown", basketball hoops, etc.  Then there's the giant Space Invaders, Ms Pac-Man, Centipede, etc. games that have been updated with more twists.  Then there are light-gun games, an entire row of dancing games, and the oddities from Japan such as Wacca, which are re-imagined Guitar Hero type games.  Oh yeah, there's also the coin pusher lotto games.  To finish it off, there are the multi-player challenge games like the Street Fighter II 8-seat versions.

Basically, games that are supposed to be more fun with friends who are physically present rather than yelling racial slurs through headsets to people halfway across the world, or games that are still to expensive or specialized to have a home version, or games that dispense physical prizes.

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On 8/22/2020 at 3:17 AM, mr_me said:

Inflation killed the arcades in the mid 1980s.  Operators rent went up and people didn't want to pay 50 cents a game.  Eventually, the industry responded with multiplayer arcade machines and arcades haven't been the same since.

Seem to remember things like Sega's Alien III:The Gun being £1 a go and never getting a home conversion 😭

 

A quid a go was the end of Arcades for myself. 

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The correct answers is no. Arcades killed themselves.

 

Several companies were putting out C and D class arcade software along with their B and A class arcade hardware (some were only C and D class) to make up for costs, and some popular games were on these arcade hardware families. This made sense as even the minimum was near 2X stronger than a home consoles and would give an experience.

 

Eventually, Arcades refused to shift business models and as the 90's went on the top arcade machines were becoming was too expensive, especially when you could get as good or near as good game experiences with hardware that was a 3rd to half as much. This was especially true for Namco and Sega which would constantly get hammered in arcade sales by the companies only one notch below them from the late early to mid-90's. 

 

At that point arcade operators were becoming picky because paying for an exepensive game and getting 10% of the coin they used to get (plus whatever additional costs or fees were involved and maintence) was not desirable. So several companies stopped moving forward with hardware and many just stayed in the C or D class category while never trying to make a VF or Ridge Racer machine, but they would still have a cheaper powerful arcade experience without having to charge too much money.

 

So with the top of the line now losing massive interest from owners, you now create a new problem, especially since arcades stuck to the same archaic business models, and that was consoles were catching up to C class arcade machines and this wasn't because of consoles this was because of arcade makers. Who intentionally wanted to make the arcade machines, while often still a bit more powerful, on a more even playing field making it easier to port the games over. 


Some arcade machines in that class were even based off the home console hardware as people who are familiar with mid-90's arcade hardware already know. So at that point the arcades had basically cut themselves out of their own market and removed what atteracted people to the arcades in the first place, the spectacle. The very very few that did still have the spectacle in some capacity where not mass adopted due to price and ROI.

 

Technically a continued reliance on spectacle and a shift to a more 360 degree profit model, would have likelyh kept arcades alive. While one home consoles would tout "toy story graphics" and not even come 50% close to it there could have been an affordable (relatively) arcade machine that was close and would have provided that spectacle to still bring in coin. Though inflation and some of the economic shifts over the years would likely prevent the peak of the 80's arcade seen from ever growing back it may have been in line with where it was after making arcades a market that was still viable.

 

As it is now, it's too late to do that. Mostly because you'd now have to reconvince retailers and organizations to adopt arcades again. 

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Sounds rather complex.. I prefer the simpler way like so:

 

That giant Space Invaders game looks and sounds cool. But I played it a few times and the difficulty ramped up too fast and I lost interest. Had it not been so hard I might have actually played more. If their thinking was to keep the game short so others that are supposed to be standing around watching get a chance to play, it failed. Never saw a huge crowd, let alone a waiting line.

 

About the home experience:

 

Games at home on the PC (and some consoles) are highly customizable or at least had many options to tailor gameplay and difficulty to one's liking. This led to a less monolithic experience which was more desirable. And games at home provided near limitless options. Just a MAME computer alone will give you thousands of arcade games to pick from. And of those thousands you're sure to find a good number of favorites.

 

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7 hours ago, ChildOfCv said:

Basically, games that are supposed to be more fun with friends who are physically present rather than yelling racial slurs through headsets to people halfway across the world, or games that are still to expensive or specialized to have a home version, or games that dispense physical prizes.

The immaturity of the online scene is way more than enough to discourage me from getting into modern game consoles. Not only that there's the annoying component of having to be online and streaming and all that DLC. So.. not my gig.

 

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(Quick comment, just something on my brain)

 

I do think there was a resurgence (early to mid 90s) in the form of Fighting games,  but that too, eventually fell apart...I hung with it through Street Fighter II and MKII (Hell, even 3) and dropped out just after checking out Primal Rage...But,  I got tired of so many me-too titles...Personally I only ever played certain games once or twice, and then moved on:  Samurai Showdown, World Heroes, and King of Fighters, King of Fighters + 1, King of Fighters + 2, King of Fighters Goes To College, King of Fighters Me Too: Electric Boogaloo...

 

Not a popular idea, but if certain arcades had freed up just a little bit of floor space and brought back some classics... In the 80's  many people probably thought there were way too many space shooters, but,...Imagine what would have happened, if in the 90s,  instead of looking at Fatal Fury 3D: Trucker Hat guy gets in another fight...You saw they brought back Zero Hour, New York, New York, and Moon Cresta?   I'd have been all over it!    (And yes,  I was purposely picking obscure games many people never tried out the first time around)...

 

Anyhow there may have also been a later, tiny mini resurgence based on big cabs with Racing games where you go against others in the same arcade or bar Or go against others in other locations,...But don't quote me on that...

 

FWIW, I think modern arcades Are making a comeback...But mainly as BARcades, featuring beer and (hopefully) the classics, plus one more thing we used to play a bit of, too...BITD, I'd say for every 4-5 video games, I'd play a game or 2 of PINBALL to mix it up.

 

Now,  Pinball games have never been duplicated fully, IMO at home, without spending about $6,000...OK Yes there's cheaper alternatives, but big machines, expensive hardware, and maintenance means many people would rather play at Arcades than home,...So I do think many people are getting into that more.   I know I sure am!  And nowadays I'm more likely to play a lot more pinball and then mix it up by adding some video games into the mix....

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12 minutes ago, GoldLeader said:

Now,  Pinball games have never been duplicated fully, IMO at home, without spending about $6,000

True, but Pinball in VR is pretty cool!  

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5 minutes ago, zzip said:

True, but Pinball in VR is pretty cool!  

Hmmmm... Sounds fun!

 

I'm also a big fan of the Pinball Hall of Fame games,... and any other crazy home console pinball games like Alien Crush, Devil's Crush, Jaki Crush, etc.

 

 

But,  Ya know that moment... when,  possibly during Multi Ball, that you hit it just right, with full ridiculous force and ya get that crisp ThwAAACK! sound of the ball hitting the glass as half the arcade looks over to see what just  happened?   Can't duplicate that at  home without a real machine!

 

Or having to call the attendant over because you got the ball stuck in a set piece?,...Or getting the ball stuck on something that keeps increasing your score, haha...I got a high score by weird moment default once haha...

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Yes.  Arcades had amazing draw back when I was a kid.  Not only were they fun to play, but the technology in general was somewhat mind blowing.  Hard to picture unless you were alive at the time.  Arcades now tend to be all nostalgia.  If we had true innovation, a come back could be possible, but the innovation I'm talking about only comes about every 20-30 years or so (like PC's, internet, etc.).  Maybe something like an arcade game that you put all 10 fingers in and each finger has 15-20 directions mapped (or degrees of freedom), or pupil scanners that provide direction control where blinking acts as the fire button, or maybe even a thought helmet you put on, where your thoughts control the action.  All with holographic display, or better yet a 4D display where you can trigger periodic slow (or faster) sense of time along with a holographic display. Or possibly a quantum computer arcade game will be the ticket in 2040, fun to speculate anyhow! 

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5 minutes ago, Tundrorock said:

Yes.  Arcades had amazing draw back when I was a kid.  Not only were they fun to play, but the technology in general was somewhat mind blowing.

TVs were not interactive up til then, so having images on the TV that you could control was paradigm-shifting, even if they looked like square blocks

 

6 minutes ago, Tundrorock said:

Maybe something like an arcade game that you put all 10 fingers in and each finger has 15-20 directions mapped (or degrees of freedom), or pupil scanners that provide direction control where blinking acts as the fire button, or maybe even a thought helmet you put on, where your thoughts control the action.  All with holographic display, or better yet a 4D display where you can trigger periodic slow (or faster) sense of time along with a holographic display

A lot of that stuff is already in development for VR.   I'm not sure VR arcades can ever be a thing given how germ-phobic society is getting.

 

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19 minutes ago, zzip said:

TVs were not interactive up til then, so having images on the TV that you could control was paradigm-shifting, even if they looked like square blocks

 

A lot of that stuff is already in development for VR.   I'm not sure VR arcades can ever be a thing given how germ-phobic society is getting.

 

 

Here's the Future!    (heh)

 

 

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I think home had a big part in it. The other was the sheer economics of trying to make money a few credits at a time. In that regard, I think it's why so many retro arcades are popping up these days that cater to our crowd. It's a lot cheaper with LCD screens today than it was with those super expensive cabinets back in the day. Charging around five bucks for an all play afternoon and sell some food/beer and you can do ok.

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I can only imagine the cost and time spent keeping the old CRTs in shape and stuff. LCD alleviates so many of the color and geometry issues. If it goes bad its just replaced on the cheap.

 

I remember having never been allowed to open the Zenith TV to replace a cracked pot, so we had to get it to where the wiper would straddle the crack or whack it clodhoppers.

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On 8/21/2020 at 8:42 AM, zzip said:

I did mention the "modern arcade" in my response.   But in my teens,  there were two strip malls with arcades and a pizza shop with game room within walking distance, plus several supermarkets, laundromats convenience stores, etc that had one or more games.   Nowadays it's a 20-30 minute drive to Dave and Busters or the Beach to find something resembling the arcades of old.   Even though it's obvious that there has been growth in recent years, they are still 'dead' compared to what they used to be.

 

But also lack of quality of home games should have caused more people to go to the arcades to find better games not less.  I think the real cause of the crash was that Pacman created a bubble, and the crash was the popping of the bubble.  After Pacman, virtually all the kids in school were crazy about videogames, it dominated our conversations.  But then around 83,  MTV became the cool thing..  the other kids talked about Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, etc,  and virtually no talk about videogames, they had become 'uncool'.   Of course some kids still remained gamers, and there were actually a lot of quality, innovative games in 83, 84 & 85.   But there were a lot fewer of us buying games and going to the arcades than there were in 81 + 82

Still, the premise makes it sounds like arcades are dead-dead. I don't accept that premise as it isn't true, and when it's pushed by big news sites, it indirectly hurts businesses like mine that are still trying to make it. Yes, they are no where near as common as they were in 1982 or 1992. But just because that's the case, doesn't mean that they should be called "dead." Diminished maybe :P

 

On the second part, one thing that a lot of people aren't familiar with is how arcades did have some crap come along too about that time. Lots and lots clones or just garbage like Trivial Pursuit. You also had a lot of manufacturers then trying to make games harder because that's what players demanded. 

On 8/21/2020 at 8:17 PM, mr_me said:

Inflation killed the arcades in the mid 1980s.  Operators rent went up and people didn't want to pay 50 cents a game.  Eventually, the industry responded with multiplayer arcade machines and arcades haven't been the same since.

There were 50 cent games before Dragon's Lair, but it's the one that gets all the attention. Funny thing is that now you have games that are $2 or even $5 a pop, the latter particularly with VR games like the Rabbids VR machine. Despite that game costing an operator $50,000 to buy, it was one of the best earning titles of 2019, so a lot of people seem to have gotten over it.

 

Multiplayer games did change some of the feel and the focus, but there were still plenty of single player games released in the late '80s that every one wanted for their NES - Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi, After Burner II, Space Harrier, Dragon Spirit, etc. I think what really changed is that Japanese game developers, who had a very different approach than companies like Atari and Midway, gained dominance. For some that was great, others not so much. 

On 8/24/2020 at 10:39 PM, GoldLeader said:

IMO,

 

3 things.   (Killed arcades as we used to know them)...

 

1)  Lack of Classic games.  I liked to try newer games, sure, but it occurred to me, around here anyway that once a game left the arcade, they Never brought it back.  I would have killed to see just 1 arcade try and leave a small row with stuff like an Asteroids Deluxe, Omega Race, (any)Donkey Kong , Star Castle, and either Astro Blaster, Space Firebird, Phoenix, or Space Invaders.  Personally, I got tired of really liking a game only to find it gone 3 weeks later replaced by a newer game I never liked as well.

 

2)  More powerful home consoles. (So yes, it's part of it).

 

3) Changing interests.  With cars, heavy metal, home systems, movies, instruments, stereos, girls, and just going out with your friends etc., all competing for your entertainment dollar...Even though, speaking for Myself, I probably gave arcades More money in the later days (Let's say '84-'89) after I had a car and could drive myself and my friends there etc., but I enjoyed the earlier arcades more because a lot of the classic games were favorites for me.

Having run classic games since 2008, I thought that they'd be a big boon to my business. They aren't - not even close. A single unit of my new games - like Jurassic Park Arcade or Cruis'n Blast, will make more in a week than almost all of my '80s do in a month. Over the course of a year, many classics make less than $100. Exceptions are things like Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter II, TMNT. I used to have Asteroids Deluxe and BattleZone, but after seeing how little they got played (and how much it cost to find parts for them), I ended up selling them to collectors. I really wish it were different, but at least in my case being in a mall, it's not.  

On 8/25/2020 at 4:39 AM, Lost Dragon said:

Seem to remember things like Sega's Alien III:The Gun being £1 a go and never getting a home conversion 😭

 

A quid a go was the end of Arcades for myself. 

I definitely get that, but like I said above, a lot of people have got used to that and not will pay much more for these games now. Although for me, I have many games that are still only 25¢ a play, or give two credits for 25¢. I have a brand new game right now that I only charge 25¢ for, as you can die fast if you aren't skilled, but it's fun to replay.

 

Consoles aren't always cheap either. If you put together all of the costs, it can add up, depending on your habits. Arcades are kind of like rentals, where to complete a game it's still only about $5-20 (depending) from start to finish. If you're still good at the classics, then you can go on-and-on with one coin ;)

 

And re: VR, is in dire trouble. It's just not caught on for homes, and it's outrageously expensive in arcades. I had a VR arcade almost right next door to me, but even before the virus and while the economy was swinging, they struggled to pay their bills. They closed in January before anyone thought the virus would lay waste to everything. Oddly enough, I've outlasted two home console game stores (one a Gamestop) and a VR arcade in this mall.   

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It was somewhere in the mid-90's when the classic arcade had dropped off my radar. On occasion I've gone back to them to try and recapture the sense of discovery, exploration, excitement, and futurism - to no avail. Maybe those are the wrong things to be looking for. Or it isn't working because those things are being "expected to happen." Not experiencing the magical escapism we once did as kids.

 

Might even be that the arcades of today aren't correctly finished inside. Most the establishments of today have crappy uncarpeted (or moldy carpet) floors and that unfinished ceiling look - full of pipes and conduits and ductwork. And everything is just packed in there. No sense of space. Just rows and rows of cabinets and a harsh glaring rectangular "storefront" window. No style or theme.

 

I always imagined (hoped) that playing a range of classics from say around 1978 through 1986 in a real arcade setting would be a thrill. But same deal.

 

It may simply be that a blast from the past can only happen once. Don't know. But if true I would have had that in the late 1990's and very early 2000's with MAME. That was the time when MAME was bringing home the classics I grew up with. And in the years following that I've fine-tuned my hi scores and discovered at least 60-80 new games.

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I'd say the big things that killed the arcade are:

 

The "DRUG MENACE!!" propaganda, spread by Nancy Reagan and co. (I wont elaborate further because of no politics rule, but the histrionics this caused, along with the next one I will mention, put a big damper on arcades.)  Seemed like everywhere the "Concerned Parent" groups were warning of the dangers of drug pushers, out to get all those arcade quarters off kids wanting to play in the arcade, and much ado was made about the "Low visibility, darkened environment!" of arcades, and how this supposedly predisposed them to being places where drug pushers would operate unrestricted.

 

The "DANGEROUS PEDOPHILES WILL RAPE YOUR CHILDREN!" hysteria that was going around then too.  Once again, "Darkened environs, low visibility--- UNSAFE! WOOO!" (Citation)

 

And then there was the "SATAN WORSHIPING CULTS!" thing that was going around then (which targeted more Pen and Paper RPGs than arcades, but still, it tied in real well with the "Pedophiles! OH MY!" hysteria.)

 

 

When kids aren't allowed out of the house, because "FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, DOUBT!" is what's on mommy's mind, they don't go to the arcade.  When they dont go to the arcade, they dont spend quarters, and then the arcade goes out of business.

 

If you couple that with "If you want to play video games, I will get you an NES, and you can play at home!", and you get pretty close to the formula that killed the arcade.

 

Due to the shift in market dynamics (because of mommy's hysteria), home consoles took off again, and soon outclassed arcades anyway-- and a cultural experience died in its infancy.

 

 

Sadly, I can't make this stuff up. :(

 

 

Edited by wierd_w

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Now that I recall, our local place gave out 'Tokens', 3 for a dollar. What a scam. 

 

While I was in China during 2010 to 2016 the arcades over there were still alive and well but most of them were made up of variations of Dance Dance Revolution. The first time I saw that thing was in 1996 in Hong Kong and I couldn't get my head around it. I now own the home versions for Xbox, 360, ps2, and a USB setup for the computer.  I love it but I always look like crap on it. I saw some kids in Mexico on it, like 10 of them and man what a spectacle. They were experts and looked amazing on the machines. They had their own style of dancing around the machines that would've looked good both on and off the machine. I really liked the Para Para version.  

Edited by CaptainCanadian

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On 8/25/2020 at 2:40 PM, zzip said:

True, but Pinball in VR is pretty cool!  

Have you played the one for PSVR? You're right its great. VR in generally is excellent. I'm totally in love with it. 

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3 hours ago, wierd_w said:

I'd say the big things that killed the arcade are:

 

The "DRUG MENACE!!" propaganda, spread by Nancy Reagan and co. (I wont elaborate further because of no politics rule, but the histrionics this caused, along with the next one I will mention, put a big damper on arcades.)  Seemed like everywhere the "Concerned Parent" groups were warning of the dangers of drug pushers, out to get all those arcade quarters off kids wanting to play in the arcade, and much ado was made about the "Low visibility, darkened environment!" of arcades, and how this supposedly predisposed them to being places where drug pushers would operate unrestricted.

 

The "DANGEROUS PEDOPHILES WILL RAPE YOUR CHILDREN!" hysteria that was going around then too.  Once again, "Darkened environs, low visibility--- UNSAFE! WOOO!" (Citation)

 

And then there was the "SATAN WORSHIPING CULTS!" thing that was going around then (which targeted more Pen and Paper RPGs than arcades, but still, it tied in real well with the "Pedophiles! OH MY!" hysteria.)

 

 

When kids aren't allowed out of the house, because "FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, DOUBT!" is what's on mommy's mind, they don't go to the arcade.  When they dont go to the arcade, they dont spend quarters, and then the arcade goes out of business.

 

Even with all that, us kids seemed to have much more freedom to go about and mingle at will, vs today where kids barely seem to leave the house even before the pandemic, and parents today are scared of everything.

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1 hour ago, CaptainCanadian said:

Have you played the one for PSVR? You're right its great. VR in generally is excellent. I'm totally in love with it. 

Yes that's the one! 

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I think this might be a local thing that has happened here in Dallas, but we had a renaissance of local arcades pop up since about 2017.  I don't mean barcades either (although they do usually have bars).  These are places that cater to classic gamers and stock a huge floor of classic games and pinball.  Well, the pinball tends to be less classic, but still.

 

Sadly, we are seeing a new "crash" because of COVID 19.  These places can't really open and are going down one by one.  A local chain called "Free Play" is doing everything they can to sell food to go and stay open as much as they can, but it doesn't look good.  Its a real shame.  Here's a list of local places that I know of just off the top of my head.  I've visited all of these:

 

BOS Pinball Lounge (Garland) <- Closed pre-Covid

Cidercade (Dallas)

Free Play Arlington

Free Play Denton <- Closed

Free Play Ft Worth

Free Play Richardson

National Video Game Museum

Realms of Arcadia <- merged with another arcade but still had to close

Regeneration <- Closed

Texas Pinball Museum <- Closed pre-Covid

Quarter Lounge Arcade

 

And I didn't even count the Axe Throwing place or the Nicklerama that has more modern stuff but still keeps a wall of modern pinball machines.

 

Here's the Free Play website.  Buy a T-Shirt from them or something: http://freeplayinc.com/savethearcade/.  These guys are the real deal and are committed to having ZERO emulation on their floor.  They are also now liquidating their warehouse of games that aren't on the floor.  I see them posting games for sale on Facebook all the time.  Sad stuff <sniff>.

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I never got to see the dark side of the arcades. Being a toady to law and order the pushers never came up to me or anything(!) They probably figured I'd report them. Or I was too interested in the tech inside the cabinets. I also didn't get flushed down the toilet to the "understuff" for abuse and subsequent cleanup for return to the real world. Did I miss whole hidden section of the arcade?

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I think you guys are misunderstanding;

 

I was not meaning that such things were actually happening, only that many mothers THOUGHT it was happening.  That is enough to chill the prospects of heading to the arcade to hang out with friends and play videogames.

 

 

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I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.  Arcades were dark with lots of people, so it seems like a good place to make a deal.  Might be a case of unless you're looking for it, it won't find you.  But I don't remember parents complaining or having concerns about it.  I do remember the schools having a problem with dungeons & dragons, something about being evil I think, but that's not video games.

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2 hours ago, mr_me said:

I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.  Arcades were dark with lots of people, so it seems like a good place to make a deal.  Might be a case of unless you're looking for it, it won't find you.  But I don't remember parents complaining or having concerns about it.  I do remember the schools having a problem with dungeons & dragons, something about being evil I think, but that's not video games.

I dunno.. I just distinctly remember there being brouhaha on daytime television about it, including on the Geraldo show and pals.  It was one of the major "reasons" my mom always insisted I could not go to the local arcade, even with my siblings who were ~10 years older.

 

 

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