Uncommon Knowledge: What was the first arcade game?

Wooden Labyrinth Game | UncommonGoodsThe arcade game got its start long before the digital video game cabinet swallowed its first quarter in the 1960s. And while there are plenty of candidates for “first arcade game,” one of the most likely was a game called bagatelle. Bagatelle began as early as the 1700s as a variation on billiards, and was a favorite of King Louis XIV. Players would use a billiard cue to knock balls from one end of a narrow table towards a series of cups at the other end. Over time, metal pins were added to the board as obstacles, and the full-sized cue stick was replaced with a spring-loaded rod. With the addition of coin operation and electric lights in the 1930s, and player-operated flippers in the 1940s, this sport of kings had evolved into the pinball machine of today.

Wooden Labyrinth Game, $16

Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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