When my grandmother was small, doing the shopping meant an excursion to scattered stores that took up a large part of the day. Now we can find everything in the shopping mall.
My mother tells me that in her childhood, the fairground people arrived in the summer and for one week, they put up attractions such as carrousels, Ferris wheels, or ghost trains. Now, we can spend an entire day out in a theme park.
In turn, in my day, the most modern pastimes were the arcade pinball machines and I also enjoyed the appearance of the first video-games such as Pac-Man or Asteroids. These places have become what my kids now know as Family Entertainment Centres (FEC).
Just like other 20th century evolutions, urban (or suburban) leisure has gone from just offering a product, to proposing an experience. It’s no longer about playing the latest game. Marketing experts know that technology is quickly surpassed and the only thing that can endure is the brand. And to gain customer loyalty, the brands try to make us participants in them, to live them. This is why they attempt to encompass all possible needs in one sole experience: to see and be seen, eat, drink and shop and spend time with family or friends.
21st century Family Entertainment Centres are going to be very different to what we know now. At the moment, (for the most part), they continue to be just a cafeteria next to a ball-pool, or a mix of devices to keep teens amused whilst their parents do their shopping. But facilities that are supported by powerful brands are already starting to appear and in which people can enjoy a half-day or even a whole day-out. Developing all types of activities without having to travel great distances. Facilities half-way between the shopping mall, theme park and arcade: the 21st century FEC.