Classic Arcade Games and Music Videos: What Do They Have in Common?

Do you remember when a weekend consisted of playing upright arcade games at the local arcade then late-night sleepovers watching MTV with your pals and consuming large amounts of sugary snacks and caffeinated soda? If so, you came of age in the 80’s, when music videos and video games were all the rage. Believe it or not, those days are long gone and MTV is old news. These days, YouTube is where the kids hang out to catch the latest music video released by their favorite artist, and less and less of a focus is on arcade gaming since the console and handheld device has arrived on the scene.

The Rise of MTV and Classic Arcade Games

The “golden age” of arcade gaming is typically recorded as lasting from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. During this time, “Pac-mania”, Space Invaders and other highly influential and addictive games caught the attention of youth across America and the world. Around the same time, MTV, which previously stood for “Music Television,” was launched in 1981 and began influencing the type of music bought by young consumers. Even if the song wasn’t on the radio, MTV gave artists exposure in a huge way.

While the music industry’s $400 million decline in sales that took place between 1978 and 1981 was largely attributed to the popularity of video games, MTV had a hand in placing music back at the forefront of culture. And some artists took advantage of the video game hype, introducing those elements into their videos to further interest youth.

Top Music Video Picks with Arcade Game Influences

A number of music videos were largely influenced by video game themes and characters, some more popular than others, and some more recent than others. Video games continue to play a huge role in culture and musical artists honor the tradition to this day.

One of the most popular music videos featuring a video game theme was released in 2000 – the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Californication” video based on their hit track from the album of the same name. The video features all the band members on their own 3D adventures, such as snowboarding, surfing on a shark’s back and eventually meeting at the center of the Earth. At the conclusion of the video “Game Over” appears at the bottom of the screen.

For starters, Iron Maiden’s epic new video for their song “Speed of Light” released on August 14, 2015, shows their mascot, Eddie, traveling through 35 years of video game history.

What’s your favorite music-video-game of all time?