How You Know You Spent Too Long Playing Arcade Games In The 1980s…

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With video games having been with us for over 50 years now, there are plenty of older people who have long memories associated with this most geeky of hobbies. You don’t have to be decrepit to have fond remembrances of piling coins into arcade machines throughout the 1980s. But it helps.

The problem with arcade games — as with any kind of video games, old or new — was their addictive qualities that suck you in and refuse to let go until you (and your dwindling pool of money) are exhausted. Which invariably means you spent too long playing these early gaming gems.

You’ll know if you spent too long playing arcade games in your formative years, and if you did then some of the following will apply to you. Even today.

You Always Want Just One More Go


You get addicted to games easily, refusing to let one beat you, no matter how unenjoyable the experience may be. Whatever the game is, whether a hardcore FPS or childish party game, you will not give in, wanting just one more go to do your best.

This habit of having just one more go was born in the arcades, where games were designed to make you keep playing for as long as possible. You would get to a certain point or hit a certain score before losing the plot and having to spend more money to do just a little better the next time.

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You Are Very Good At Games


You have skills when it comes to playing games. You may not be the best player at every single game you try your hand at, but generally speaking you grasp games quickly and don’t give up on trying to complete them.

This is because your gaming prowess was forged at a time when few games were easy. Arcade games were designed to be challenging so that you’d get beaten down and feel compelled to keep pumping more money in. And you would do exactly that, gaining skills with each try.

You Possess Claw-like Hands


You still have a physical reminder of those days spent fondling joysticks and button mashing control pads. While you may not permanently be suffering from the claw-like hands that crippled you for hours after an extensive session on your favorite arcade game (we hope not), you’ll certainly remember the experience.

The problem in the days when arcade gaming ruled supreme was the push to keep on playing for hour after hour. You’d paid for the privilege, after all, and you weren’t going to let a little bit of pain prevent you from achieving a new high score.

You Hate Loose Change


You have an aversion to loose change, sticking with notes and/or cards. If you do use cash then the loose change you’re left with after buying something in a shop feels like it doesn’t belong in your pocket. After all, its natural home is sitting in the coin drawer of arcade machines.

Your dislike of loose change stems from the fact that you never had any growing up. What you did have was pushed into the greedy slot on the front of the arcade machines you loved, so it was never in your possession for long.

You Value Gameplay Over Graphics


You like new games, with their immersive environments and state-of-the-art visuals, but those graphics aren’t as important as the gameplay. Ever. You would much rather play a crappy looking retro title with gameplay to die for than a stunningly gorgeous modern game with shoddy gameplay.

This is because you grew up and got into gaming at a time when gameplay was all developers really had to focus on. Sure, there were titles pushing the visual boundaries of what was possible with the technology, but gameplay was always the core element that separated good from bad.

You Now Own An Arcade Machine


You have an arcade machine in your man cave (or woman cave, naturally), having bought one on eBay a few years ago in an attempt to hold onto your youth for just a little longer. Or, at the very least (and much more likely), you still own retro games and the systems you need to play them on. Just like our very own Dave LeClair.

It’s not that you hate modern games, with all their fancy 3D visuals and online multiplayer shenanigans, it’s just that you also like the classic games that punctuated your childhood. And you’ll keep playing them until your arthritic hands give out on you.


You now know you spent too long playing arcade games in the 1980s. But what to do with that information? Well, you know you’re middle-aged, and admitting as much is the first step in accepting the truth. You also know this pastime is in your blood, and that you’re unlikely to ever give up gaming. So, why not just buy that shiny new console you’ve been coveting for years and be done with it.

Image Credits: Rob DiCaterino, Quinn Dombrowski, Allison.Johnston, Mr Seb, Peddhapati, Blake Patterson, Rob Caterino

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Comments (14)
  • Rick Wainio

    I grew up in the 1980s playing arcade games in arcades, skating rinks, grocery stores and 7/11s. Loved it! But I disagree with the “graphics” mentality of today’s “gamers”. Lets face it, the graphics sucked back then, and this is THE reason why we have new and better gaming consoles and PCs coming out all the time! There is no other reason for upgrading consoles other than for the graphics! People went to the arcade to play all the awesome games with the best graphics. Period. I remember playing Final Fight in the arcade and loving it! Then, when it finally came out for the NES, I was like WTF!!! This looks like complete crap! Graphics were THE reason for the Neo Geo. It was THE reason why kids upgraded from the NES to the SNES or Genesis. Graphics! So I don’t know where this anti-awesome-graphics mentality stems from today. Personally, I’d rather play a game with awesome graphics and gameplay rather than a game with poor graphics, but awesome gameplay.

    With that said, I DO have an X-arcade cabinet with about 300 classic (and modern) arcade games in my home bar. And I game only on PC games MAINLY because there WAS a time when gaming PCs offered the best graphics. There is NO OTHER REASON to spend big money on a gaming PC other than for awesome graphics. I DO dislike loose change but I do not have “claw” fingers lol.

    Lastly, thanks for the article!

  • Olumide

    StreetFighter, Sonic, Mortal kombat. I would actually skip school and go to the arcade and one day, the principal was there waiting for us. You can imagine the rest of the story……..

  • Guy M

    We had to do speeches in elementary school. I did mine on Pac Man and made it to the school finals. Plus I can tell a silver quarter from a regular quarter by feel.

  • Jimmy M

    Gyruss! Galaga! :) Sore feet and back of neck was my clue. Unlike lazy bums of todays generation I had to stand to play :)

  • Matthew

    You think Space Invaders had all that was needed in game audio … those 4 notes getting faster and faster … GOTCHA

    • Dave P

      As much as I love the soundtracks to modern games, there was something so simple and elegant about the old ones. They were mesmerizing.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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