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An arcade game (or coin-op) is a coin-operated entertainment machine, usually installed in public businesses, such as restaurants, bars, and particularly amusement arcades. Most arcade games are video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, and merchandisers (such as claw cranes).
The golden age of arcade video games lasted from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. While arcade games were still relatively popular during the late 1990s, the entertainment medium saw a continuous decline in popularity in the Western hemisphere when home-based video game consoles made the transition from 2D graphics to 3D graphics. Despite this, arcades remain popular in many parts of Asia as late as the early 2010s.
Arcade video games
In 1971 students at Stanford University set up the Galaxy Game, a coin-operated version of the Spacewar video game. This ranks as the earliest known instance of a coin-operated video game. Later in the same year, Nolan Bushnell created the first mass-manufactured game, Computer Space, for Nutting Associates.
In 1972, Atari was formed by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Atari essentially created the coin-operated video game industry with the game Pong, the first successful electronic ping pong video game. Pong proved to be popular, but imitators helped keep Atari from dominating the fledgling coin-operated video game market.
Arcade games often have short levels, simple and intuitive control schemes, and rapidly increasing difficulty. This is due to the environment of the Arcade, where the player is essentially renting the game for as long as their in-game avatar can stay alive (or until they run out of tokens).
Games on consoles or PCs can be referred to as "arcade games" if they share these qualities or are direct ports of arcade titles. Many independent developers are now producing games in the arcade genre that are designed specifically for use on the Internet. These games are usually designed with Flash/Java/DHTML and run directly in web-browsers.
Arcade racing games have a simplified physics engine and do not require much learning time when compared with racing simulators. Cars can turn sharply without braking or understeer, and the AI rivals are sometimes programmed so they are always near the player (rubberband effect).
Arcade flight games also use simplified physics and controls in comparison to flight simulators. These are meant to have an easy learning curve, in order to preserve their action component. Increasing numbers of console flight video games, from Crimson Skies to Ace Combat and Secret Weapons Over Normandy indicate the falling of manual-heavy flight sim popularity in favor of instant arcade flight action.
Other types of arcade-style games include fighting games (often played with an arcade controller), beat 'em up games (including fast-paced hack and slash games), light gun rail shooters and "bullet hell" shooters (intuitive controls and rapidly increasing difficulty), music games (particularly rhythm games), and mobile/casual games (intuitive controls and often played in short sessions).