The True Origin of The Arcade

or How Gamers can Control their Future...

The subject of Arcades and Arcadism is multi-faceted and deeply interlinked with other areas of study.

Perhaps the most notable points of interest concerning arcades pertain to the very word itself.

The term "arcade" contains the french root "arc" relating to an "arch" or "bow: This would make sense when we think of the first Arcades, being simply a series of arches within an architectural structure. You may have noticed these repeated arches or arcades in the Colosseum of ancient Rome or perhaps you saw them in your local mosque or church.

Not only does the "arcade" relate to architecture but were later used to describe that of Shopping Centers or "Shopping Arcades." In his uncompleted posthumously released work "The Arcades Project," Jewish Philosopher Walter Benjamin collected various writings about the glass-roofed, iron-covered centers built for leisure and commerce in Paris during the 1930s. This eclectic collection is seen as being the framework for post-modernist thinking.

(Below) Paris Arcades

It is partly because of this relation in architecture that arcades can directly reference shopping malls. Of course, in the modern era, underneath these arches, and within shopping centers, were the type of "arcade" we are all more familiar with— the Video Arcade.

The subject of Arcades relates to architecture, shopping and commerce, and gaming. Even though this relationship is deeply intwined in name and design, their relationship is rarely drawn.

Even though gaming and esports are one of the most dominant industries of entertainment, building communities and connecting players worldwide, it's relationship to its true Arcade origin is lost in transition, which makes it's connection to ancient utopia seem even more far-fetched. See, the term Arcadia, is used in a variety of contexts as a reference to locations of fantasy like "Neo Arcadia" in the Megaman series or "Neo-Arcadia" in the 2020 Ubisoft game "HyperScape," but it dates back to ancient Greek mythology.

(Above) Neo Arcadia [Megaman] (Below) Neo-Arcadia [Hyperscape]

In myth, Arcadia was the home of Pan and was named after King Arcas, son of Zeus, a hunter who carried a bow. We know that the "bow" is another word for "arc" due to its shape, which would explain where we draw the reference from within architectural arches. Which would then mean that the concept of Arcades, whether in architecture, shopping malls, or gaming centers, draws its origin from the hunter Arcas of greek mythology.

Arcas

I find this all to be quite fascinating. It's beautiful to learn the origin of your favorite gaming spaces and how closely they are linked with shapes, architecture, Greek gods, and the concept of living in harmony with nature. Somehow, all this awesomeness of gaming and architectural history is largely forgotten or ignored. I don't think these relations should be ignored, though. Perhaps at it's the most basic level, these various points of interest should be more commonly recognized for their connection to the all incredible Arc of geometry; The curve in which humankind has carved out his eye to see.

The point of Arcadism is to firstly connect video arcades and gaming culture to it's own ancient and complex origin. The second point of Arcadism is to do what Arcs do so well— introduce, house, and cover the world of varieties, interests, and subcultures, bringing them all together under one roof. For your pleasure.

(end of part 1)

Leave a comment

Share

Follow Arcade Press on Twitter