Imagine for a moment you just got the seventh Chaos Emerald in Sonic 2 or just reached world seven of Super Mario Bros and your mom says it’s time to study or time for bed. What do you do?
If you said “leave the console running until morning” congratulations, your energy-wasting ways have caused the polar ice caps to melt another three inches. (If you also left the TV on, I hope you get mauled by an angry tree or a huddle of homeless penguins)
See, we humans like progress, we like that feeling of accomplishment, especially in our games. And when that accomplishment is taken away, particularly moments after achieving it, well, we get a little upset. Arcade games had to strike a profitable balance between intentionally screwing players so as to force them to drop more quarters to keep playing and making the game fun/addicting enough so players would want to keep playing. This unfortunately meant that few players would actually see the end of a game (if there was one) because arcades couldn’t feasibly save the progress of every player. Arcade games weren’t, understandably, about making continued progress through a game or story but more about achieving high scores and being better than your friends.