Arcades are coming back, with a new target audience

(via Wil Wheaton on Tumblr) ArsTechnica has a new article on arcades, The surprising, stealth rebirth of the American Arcade.  The nostalgia factor is helping, but it's coming back on a lot more than just the memories of Baby Boomers -- there's a real appeal that the arcade has found a niche in, that home consoles apparently just can't satisfy, no matter how shiny the controllers are.

After a while they've played all the games... but if it's a place they know they can get as good a beer as any place in the city and [also] play games, then that's what makes it stand out."

That doesn't mean Emporium's customers treat the games as an afterthought to the alcohol, though. "We could be completely full to capacity and all of our tables will be open—no one is at the tables because everyone is out playing games," Marks said. "Any other bar I've ever been to in my life, the tables are the prime real estate, not the games.

But it;s not all bars -- ZAP Arcade in Jordan, Minnesota was opened for kids, not adults.

"There's really nothing for youth there. There's a water tower, a lake, a creek... it's small. That was really our intention when we opened, to be a safe resource for kids, to offer something in the community that was just sort of cheap fun."

The article makes a solid case for the business model of arcades, which seem to have a solid consumer base, even with the high-graphics, super-complicated games you can have in your home. Classic arcade games are simpler, have more replay value, are often more challenging, and the arcade environment makes for a better social play experience.

"The last time I played Modern Warfare on Xbox Live, I stopped playing because I was tired of hearing these immature rants," he said. "We have people playing each other face to face in our bar, they're high fiving, they're congratulatory, they're respectful, they're having a good time. When you play online, you just want to scream sometimes. [The arcade] is just a better experience."