Originally published by Schiffer in the ’90’s, this book remains a staple for collectors of arcade machines. Clocking in at nearly 180 colorful pages, a first glance might make you think this is merely a coffee table book, but it goes much deeper than that and is a great resource for decades of gaming. Starting in the 1880’s, Arcade machines quickly gained popularity long before they had joysticks and monitors and were more like novelty machines with odd gimmicks that kept people shoving their coins in it. This section in particular was very interesting, seeing olde-tyme arcade cabinets decades before any elements of electronic gaming were added.
The section on pinball machines was tremendous, filled with photos and info of all sorts of games from Gottlieb, Williams, and plenty of other well-established companies and some forgotten ones. Going as deep as the mid-1980’s, “Arcade Treasures” covers every type of arcade gaming, from the antiquities of yesterday to the revolutionary cabinets that forged the path for gaming today.
One of the best things about this book, aside from the easily-digestible information, is the amount of photos. Nearly every game in the book has a photo to accompany it, if not a few especially for the more modern machines. I also really enjoyed the spotlights on the illustration that was used on these machines. It’s truly a lost art, and says a lot about the amount of imagination that gamers had to use to project their ideal images into their heads while playing old Atari games or whatever.
While this is a republished version, there has not been any updates to the book, and that might be the one downside to it. The coverage ends around the time it was made, but the up-side of that is there more space for these older games that most likely would have had to been downsized in a modern publication to make way for newer games. There are plenty of other books on the market that cover the post-Atari boom, but this book is focused more on the generations before that which makes it very unique and worth reading to educate yourself on the roots of the industry.
There is also a price guide in the back of the book, but I can not vouch for the accuracy of it anymore, since I am not sure if that was updated or kept intact from the first publication.
The book is a wonderful blast from the past, full of nostalgia even for an eighties-baby like myself. Since this book was originally published in 1994, arcades were still very strong and popular, and it is great reading about how important these machines were to people much older than me. It’s sad that today’s modern gaming involves sitting on a couch and trash-talking to someone in another place that could be around the world. Kids today will not understand the experience of playing in an arcade, the sights, sounds – the good, the bad, and the ugly of the entire afternoon that you could spend blowing your allowance on all sorts of games. This book could double as a history book moreso that ever, a peek into the past of gaming that is almost all but gone from this generation. After reading this book, you will certainly be inspired to find a real arcade and start dropping some quarters to feed your addiction.
You can order “Arcade Treasures” By Bill Kurtz from Amazon.com for around $40. If you are already into collecting these or want to get started, or just really enjoy the history of gaming, this is a must-have book for your collection.