An arcade game is a coin-operated entertainment machine, typically installed in businesses such as restaurants, pubs, video arcades, and Family Entertainment Centers. Most arcade games are redemption games, merchandisers, video games or pinball machines.
The first popular "arcade games" were early amusement park midway games such as shooting galleries, ball toss games, and the earliest coin-operated machines, such as those which claim to tell a person their fortune or played mechanical music. The old midways of 1920s-era amusement parks (such as Coney Island in New York) provided the inspiration and atmosphere of later arcade games.
In the 1930s, the earliest coin-operated pinball machines were made. These early amusement devices were distinct from their later electronic cousins in that they were made of wood, did not have plungers or lit-up bonus surfaces on the playing field, and used mechanical instead of electronic scoring readouts. By around 1977, most pinball machines in production switched to using solid state electronics for both operation and scoring.
Arcade games often have very short levels, simple, easy to grasp controllers, iconic characters, and rapidly increasing difficulty. They are designed as quick bursts of adrenaline-fueled thrills, as opposed to most console games, which feature more in-depth gameplay, and stronger storylines. This is due to being coin-operated, where the player is essentially renting the game for as long as their game avatar can stay alive (or until they run out of tokens). Games on consoles or PCs can be referred to as an "arcade game" if it shares these qualities, or if it's a direct port of an arcade title.