Arcade’s & LAN Centers: Without them esports is doomed
*note: I wrote this awhile back but now I am trying to consolidate my blog posts into one place*
So the headline of this article may sound harsh, but it’s something I strongly believe is a reality. Arcades and LAN centres are all but extinct in North America, their numbers a mere skeleton of what they were in the 80s & 90s. Despite the polarized manner of operation of the establishments, they were indeed vital to the growth of eSports, if not the key to its break into a stronger audience.
These havens of electronic entertainment were public grounds in which people could socialize and play video games. But instead of writing an article about why arcades died, I am going to write about the impact their loss on eSports and competitive gaming as a whole. I am convinced that their decline is one of major hindrances to eSports in North America.
People who have developed their skills at LAN centre or an arcade can attest that the people you meet at these facilities become your comrades or rivals - and sometimes both- for life. The key was the exchange of information and fresh skill sets brought to the collective. Because these places were publicly located, a fresh reoccurring cycle of skilled players would come strolling through the doors. In traditional sports this would be your park basketball court, recreational center or hockey rink. Rank battles and match making have become the de facto replacement, the quarter replaced with battlepoints/rank and the face to face experience replaced with a microphone. You log on , beat a chump and never really think twice about whether or not he was relevant — whereas in the arcade scene I have experienced my fair share of mentorship from a would-be rival.
Natural Venues For Tournaments
For organizers , these already turnkey venues came (most of the time) complete with all the equipment one needs to run a basic tournament. Creating a basis for a synergistic relationship. The owner not only gets auxiliary promotional benefits from the event, he also gets a cut of the sales, and the organizer usually gets a financial break on the use of the venue, a win-win scenario. This kind of relationship allowed for more events to happen more often and relieve additional stress on event organizers.
Focal Point Of Which Competitive Meets Casual
Arcades and LAN centres were at one point where many people gained their digital kicks. Whether they were just checking their email or they were playing Time Crisis, it was a perfect forum to cultivate would-be-spectators. The establishments were usually located in easily accessible, very visible , high traffic locations, making for a steady stream of walk-by traffic.
The Point? The point is that these now-defunct venues share the same properties as a local sports center, dirt track or golf course. They also share the same vital traits that help each venue’s respective sport to get to where it is today. It is clear that any country that has a healthy eSports community also has a healthy LAN centre and Arcade industry. If you are one of the lucky few people who live close to these dying venues , turn off your Xbox live or PSN for an afternoon and spend at least 1 hour in these establishments - the future of eSports could depend on it.
If you grew up in the arcade / LAN centre era or got some thoughts on subject let me know what you think in the comments