Visiting professor discusses arcade gaming

Mackenzie Palmer

Video game enthusiast Carly Kocurek discussed the historical significance of personal gaming consoles and arcades at a public lecture Wednesday. 

Kocurek, digital humanities and media studies assistant professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, discussed the world of gaming and the individuals who refer to themselves as “gamers” during the lecture. 

According to Kocurek, who is in the process of releasing a book covering her recent research of the history and experience of the arcade, the 1970s were the “Golden Era” of arcade gaming. Kocurek said personal consoles started to rise in popularity following the introduction of the Japanese Nintendo into American gaming culture. Arcades fell in prominence because the cost of personal consoles were significantly cheaper over time than arcade gaming, Kocurek said.

“Parents buy these consoles for their children, [and] in return they know where they are, and, as well, aren’t being bothered for more quarters,” Kocurek said.

According to Kocurek, arcade gaming and themed bars are rising in popularity in the U.S. One example of this type of establishment is Barcade — half bar and half arcade with numerous locations. Kocurek said she believes this is because older generations, who grew up on arcade games, are starting to feel nostalgic for
their childhood.

Kocurek said these games may not be easy to preserve, but users often believe it’s worth it. 

“People just really love games, and this is a way to makes things different,” Kocurek said.

Kocurek said gaming culture surrounds the theme of “boys becoming men” and typically has poor representation of women and girls. Kocurek said this is because of the false assumption that women don’t like to play or even can’t play video games. Kocurek also said men often think video games need to be protected from women, who play social games, such as those on Facebook.

“Men believe it’s a place for men to be men,” Kocurek said.

Andrew Gansky, an American studies graduate student who attended the event, said the lecture helped him understand the history of gaming.

“[It’s] interesting to hear the historical roots,” Gansky said. 

Kirsten Ronald, an American studies graduate student, said she has noticed how nostalgia plays a role in people’s interests as they age through her studies of social dance, specifically the two-step.

“Two-stepping and arcade gaming both show an old way of life,” Ronald said.