Arcades in the late 1970s and early 1980s held a particular place in the American way of life. Like shopping malls and roller skating rinks, they were safe, isolated areas where kids and teenagers could hang out, and, with a reasonable amount of money, spend hours without their parents. Bill Disney, a pinball enthusiast and owner of The Pinball Gallery in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, says of his younger years that "most parents, they basically didn’t know what their kids were doing any time of the day. They were on their bikes, out the whole day," and "they didn’t care where they were." This laid-back attitude varied by family, as well as by geography, but the relative autonomy of older children in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and early 1980s, was much greater than it would be moving into the ‘90s. Films of the early ‘80s such as E.T. and The Wizard show typical, American kids, left to their own devices, playing video games and capturing aliens with their friends while their parents are at work.Unfortunately, arcades fell victim to the incessant drive for novelty in video-games, as the story recounts. But what really helped push arcades out of business was the growing fear of leaving children supervised. As the article explains,
But it wasn’t technology, or the games themselves, which caused the long and slow death of arcade gaming to begin in earnest. The first hint of sickness within the industry surfaced as a growing fear — much like in the old days of pinball — about the effects of gaming and the environment of arcades on the nation’s youth.I would also add that even in the late 1970's, there was also the growing phenomenon of home video games. The very first major purchase I ever made was for an Atari game console. It cost $100 and I saved up my allowance money for TWO YEARS to be able to buy it. Later, when I was a teenager, my dad bought the family a Commodore 64 computer, and for the time it was a decent gaming platform as well. Needless to say, with the Atari and the Commodore 64, I spent far less time at the arcade than I otherwise might have. With technology now, I can have an entire video-game arcade with a console device or even in my hand courtesy of a smartphone, an iPod Touch, or a tablet computer. Why go to an arcade when I can sit at home with my XBox or Nexus 7 and play video games to my hearts content?