With the continually growing popularity of home consoles, it’s often easy for the consumer gaming media to marginalise other types of gaming – be they tabletop games for the home or larger experiences, such as arcade gaming. Occasionally however, someone will speak up in defence of these other games. Recently, just such an incident cropped up involving Kotaku, whose editor Brian Crecente penned an article on the issue of convenience. This examined the relationship between the decline of laser tag and Dungeons & Dragons and the rise of Halo and Everquest, concluding that the video games are simply more convenient, and looked to the future by comparing the iPhone’s business model with that of the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.
So far, so standard. It’s true that purchasing games for the iPhone is an easy process, given their instant availability and general low prices. But Kotaku chose to run an interesting response from Jason Bock, the director of marketing for LaserTron. It highlighted the busy laser tag location he is employed by, as well as the variance in equipment, target audiences and location quality. The suggestion is that while laser tag is not a daily entertainment choice for many people, it is still a valid one and opinions on the whole industry should not be formed on the basis of a single location. I’m inclined to agree – just last year, a huge new venue opened up in my home town.
There is a lot here that we can relate to, as arcade enthusiasts. Blanket assertions of a “dead” industry are fairly common, but they are often based on the all-or-nothing premise that if the arcade sector is not leading the video game industry, it has nothing left to offer. Of course, the arcade clearly does not lead the video game industry and hasn’t done for some time, but to call the industry dead is to ignore the companies making good money, and the new arcades which open. Most players may not be spending every day at an arcade, but enough are still heading out to make it worthwhile for all of us involved in the industry.