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- This article is about the venue. For the games, see Arcade game. For arcades specializing in video games, see Video arcade.
An arcade is a venue usually filled with two kinds of games: ticket/token-dispensers and arcade cabinets.
The dispensers are games like skee-ball or whack-a-mole that usually involve a physical test of skill, the result of which determines how many tickets it will dispense to the winner. There is also a class of machine that operates purely on tokens (the faux-quarters used to initiate games in an arcade), in which the player times the dropping of a token into the machine, laden with moving parts, in the hopes that the token is made to push other tokens out of the machine and gain a net token profit. This usually does not work. Tickets can be redeemed at a ticket redemption counter, where large amounts of tickets, usually in the thousands, can get prizes like a radio or a battery-powered toy, and smaller ticket amounts can get prizes like bubble gum or plastic spider rings.
Arcade cabinets are non-console housings for video games. These, too, are operated by tokens, but usually do not dispense tickets. Hence, it is the responsibility of the game, and not the ticket counter, to give a player his money's worth. Some arcade cabinets are basically boxed versions of games people could purchase and play at home at their leisure. Some are games which would be impractical to play at home - pinball games, for instance, or cabinets with large plastic pistols or rifles to fire at virtual enemies.
Some games, like F-Zero AX, have attempted to bridge a gap between home and arcade play by connecting home versions of a game with an arcade counterpart and rewarding players who play both. However, these attempts have mostly been met with failure, due in large part to the declining popularity of the American arcade.
Arcade cabinet games are usually designed to have a very fast turnover, so new players can come to spend their money as fast as possible. As such "arcade" is also sometimes a genre of game which can be played for a few minutes at a time, has little or no permanent progression, and focuses on short action-packed stages.