I’ve shared a good deal of vintage arcade footage that has surfaced over the years here on the blog. You can check out some of those videos by clicking here.
Whilst new unseen footage is scarce on the ground these days, YouTube does occasionally throw up new examples of arcade scenes, factory footage and archive news stories from the Golden Age of arcade gaming. So I’m pleased to be able to share a few new things that I’ve come across over the previous few months, that provide a fascinating window into the atmosphere and culture that was developing around the arcade industry during the late 70s and 80s.
The first is this amazing film which appears to show raw footage covered by a Western news outlet of the Space Invaders craze that was sweeping Tokyo during the summer of 1979. Around that time, the game had about 8 million daily players in Japan, with daily revenue peaking at ¥2.6 billion ($114 million). This made it the best-selling video game and highest-grossing “entertainment product” of its time, even leading to (since debunked) urban myths of a Yen shortage in Japan. Suffice to say, it was the game that everyone wanted to play, and as this video shows, arcades across Tokyo had multiple installations of Space Invaders on their floors to satisfy the huge demand:
Next up, more unedited footage, this time of the Bally Midway factory, during the height of the Pac-Man craze. We’ve seen similar footage previously, but this shows more detail than before of the cabinet production process. Of particular note here is the discussion going on at the start of the video, presumably between members of the engineering team. They are discussing the possible placement of a fire button on a joystick, most likely this was a pre-production meeting regarding the legendary arcade game Gorf. “I want to try it” is the response from the guy in the suit!
There are great panoramic scenes of hundreds of Pac-Man cabs as well as the manufacturing process used to build various components. See if you can spot the Rally-X cabinets in a row, and being play tested:
The next video is a one on one interview with Atari’s Lyle Rains. As a senior executive at Atari’s coin-operated division, he obviously had great insight into the industry from the perspective of a company that was at the top of its game (if you’ll excuse the pun). Filmed in 1981, within Atari’s very own in-house games room at Sunnyvale, California, Lyle talks about everything from the design process through to what makes an arcade popular. He also talks in some depth about the hand he had in the creation of Asteroids, (which happens to be the game he is leaning on), as well as how the game was played out in the field. In the background is an upright Red Baron. If you’re eagle eyed, at around the 12:44 mark, you can spot an all-white Missile Command upright sitting behind the interviewer. I wonder if that was an early prototype of the final game?
At it’s peak in 1983, American arcade chain Aladdin’s Castle boasted some 450 locations across the country. Regularly housing the latest arcade releases, it was a mainstay of teenage kids everywhere. This raw news footage shows some of the games available back in September 1981 at Aladdin’s Castle‘s Tyler, Texas location:
And to compliment that, further footage from the same year, at the company’s Washington DC location:
Do give the videos a like or two – the guys who find and upload this footage are doing a great service to allow us to get a sense of the arcade industry back then.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
Thanks as always for reading this week.