- The 1980s constituted a Golden Age of gaming. Arcades sprung up in every town and city across the United States, occupying teenagers and adding to the Generation Gap. With simple controls and addictive game play, the 80s arcade scene changed the way people entertain themselves. The arcade became a frequent home for 80s kids with a few quarters to spend and an afternoon to spend them in.
- Manufactured by Nintendo in 1981, "Donkey Kong" became the undisputed champion of arcade games and introduced the world to a video game icon: Mario. In his first game, Mario attempts to rescue his darling Princess from the evil ape Donkey Kong. The game play is remarkably simple: Mario scales a series of construction beams, dodging fireballs and barrels, in order to get to the Princess at the top of the construction site. Once there, Donkey Kong will take her to the next level.
- Mario's popularity in "Donkey Kong" spawned a slew of games dedicated to the diminutive plumber. In 1985, Mario appeared in his first self-titled game: "Super Mario Bros" on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Once again, Mario must attempt to rescue his sweetheart, now with a new name: Princess Toadstool. Donkey Kong has been replaced with the more menacing Bowser, but the same tricks apply: once you get to his castle and defeat Bowser, you discover that the real Princess Toadstool is in another castle.
Not only did this launch Mario into super-stardom, but also established Nintendo as the leader of the video game console industry, leading the way to 250 Mario games, seven TV shows, one live-action movie and even a breakfast cereal.
- Designed by video game pioneer Atari in 1979, "Asteroids" helped usher in the Golden Age of gaming. Controlling a spacecraft, the player needs to destroy all asteroids and flying saucers on the screen without getting hit. The simple controls made for addictive game play. The graphics mirror this simplicity: basic 2D shapes on a black background. "Asteroids" remains Atari's top selling game of all time, and was often in such high demand by arcades in the 1980s that Atari could not ship the machines quickly enough.
- In 1980, Pac-Man made his debut in arcades under the name of Puck-Man. The popularity of "Pac-Man" allowed for the sale of over 100,000 machines in the first year and Gamespot estimates that "Pac-Man" has been played more than ten billion times. The following year, his wife Ms. Pac-Man received her own game; both games were identical except that Ms. Pac-Man had a small red bow on her head. The game's popularity spawned a cartoon made by Hanna-Barbera and shown on ABC at primetime. It even prompted a song, "Pac-Man Fever," reaching number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 list in 1982.