In 1980's Mobile, Alabama, video games were as common as wood paneling decor
The Raindrop (1982), B.C. Rain High School
In the early 80's, Mobilians could find video games at arcades, skating rinks, pizza parlors, movie theaters, mini-golf, bowling alleys, barber shops, and gas stations—basically anywhere that kids and electrical outlets co-existed.
And boy did kids love their video games. By 1983, video game addiction became such a problem, that "Huck Finn" laws were invoked to tackle truancy.
Susan Semmes reports on the growing video game truancy issue at 4 min mark
To say video games were everywhere would be an understatement. Kids in Mobile could choose between Chuck E. Cheese and Showbiz Pizza in 1982 and by 1983, enthusiasts could choose between two arcades in Bel Air Mall alone.
Thanks to Bally, parents could shop kid-free at Bel Air Mall with two drop-off options
Mobile Press Register 1984
Not to be outdone, Gayfers celebrated their 103rd anniversary at Springdale Mall with Billy Bob from Showbiz Pizza along with arcade games, Pac-Man and Centipede. Kids could even get their picture taken with Pac-Man himself!
For it's part, the Mobile Press Register began running a weekly advice column for tackling video games, aptly titled, "How to Beat Video Games." The writer was none other than, champion player and book author, Michael Blanchet, who looked suitably like a cross between Journey's, Steve Perry, and Rush's, Geddy Lee.
"How to Beat Video Games" featured advice on beating such games as Zaxxon and Robotron
Mobile Press Register, 1982
According to historical documents of the time, namely Baker Middle School's Novus annuals, Mobilians favored Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Frogger in 1982. But by 1984, Dragon's Lair topped the list, which now included Q-Bert and Super Pac-Man.
Even kids at McGill-Toolen liked Pac-Man.
Vespidae (1982), McGill-Toolen High School
Unless you think that Mobile just featured the run-of-the-mill classics, all kinds of rare and hard to find games could be found throughout the city. Here are just a few that I remember:
While the video game industry suffered a crash in 1983, there seemed to be little impact to Mobile. The only victim appeared to be Chuck E. Cheese which closed it's doors in 1984 when its company was bought by Showbiz Pizza Time—but that is a story for our next episode.
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