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The Low Down on Japan’s Arcade Centers

  • 30
  • 08
  • 2016

When someone mentions Japan, it’s easy to understand why the first images popping into our minds are flashing lights, crazy food, amazing people, cute culture, and over-the-top music.

If you have ever visited Japan, you will have come across one of their famous arcade centers which span across whole buildings and contain multiple floors, all with separate gaming and arcade-related sections.


A rough floor plan of a typical arcade center is like this —

Floor one: Prize, claw, and crane games
Floor two: Casino style games and horse racing simulators
Floor three: traditional video games and fighting and zombie games
Floor four: music and rhythm games, large simulator games
Floor five: photo booths and printable stickers

Now, most of these game styles are also found in arcades throughout the western world, and while there are similarities, there are many more differences that will leave you standing in shock. For example, with Japanese gaming, lights, music, and colors far exceed what you would expect to see in the U.S., and simply walking through one of Japan’s many arcades is an experience in itself.

If you are wondering, casino style arcade games are very similar to gambling machines throughout the rest of the world. The main difference is that people play with tokens instead of money and receive rewards such as food, toys, and more tokens. Aside from the social and sensory experience on these casino style floors, the reason these games are so popular probably has to do with Japan’s heavy restrictions on gambling.

To provide a little history, the arcade boom began after World War II when Japan experienced a massive period of expansion, and overflowing cities became denser and more populated. Combine this with a variety of other influencing factors, such as a need for urban leisure activities, the sudden availability of disposable income, an extremely advanced manufacturing industry, and a cultural appreciation for gaming and novelty items, and you have a recipe for arcade centers.

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