Video game boredom was real in 1983

The video craze seemed to have become a thing of the past at Halifax arcades.

Players were tired of the same old games at Halifax arcades

Bored by video games

40 years ago
Duration 1:22
Halifax arcades are finding that the appeal of video games has declined significantly in 1983.

"No cash refunds," said the sign at the video arcade entrance, in addition to the usual arcade rules like no smoking, swearing, or loitering.

And in the summer of 1983, there wasn't as much cash to refund as there had been just a year earlier.

Glory days were over

Not even Donkey Kong Jr., visible at back, was enough to get this young man excited about the arcade again. (1st Edition/CBC Archives)

"It was at this time last year that the video craze hit its peak," said CBC Halifax reporter Bette Cahill. "It was not unusual to see people lined up for 15 or 20 minutes, just to get a chance to compete with their favourite game." 

A trio of players was shown crowded around Frogger before the one working the joystick threw up his hands and walked away in dismay past a game called Spectar.

Rally-X and Polaris, both of which were released in 1980, were also visible. 

But now, lineups were few.

"They're too boring now," said a young man standing next to Donkey Kong Jr. and in front of Moon Patrol. "It's the same games over and over again."

Same old games

This gamer told CBC she used to spend $4 or $5 at the arcade, but eventually found herself rarely spending more than $1 or $2 there. (1st Edition/CBC Archives)

And that meant players weren't spending as much.

"I don't like playing the same games over and over," said a girl in a K-Way windbreaker who said her spending had declined to as low as a dollar.

And a manager at the arcade said he'd noticed.

"It's levelled off quite a bit lower," he said. "In the range from 30 to 40 per cent."

Two of the more popular arcades in the area were Quinpool Amusement and Fantasy 2000 in Dartmouth, N.S.

"At one point, Fantasy 2000 had to hire six supervisors just to keep up with the crowds," said Cahill, as the camera showed a player trying his luck at Joust.

"Today, only two supervisors are needed."

'Second coming' was just around the corner

The manager of a Halifax arcade said business was down 30 to 40 per cent from its peak. (1st Edition/CBC Archives)

Cahill, standing in front of two of the arcade's older entertainments — pinball games — said the owners and operators of the arcades refused to accept that video games were "just another fad."

"In fact, they're looking forward to what they call the 'second coming' of the electronic video game," she summed up.

"This is when a brand-new line of more sophisticated video games are introduced to the marketplace."