Having your own private arcade at home is a growing trend.

This CNET News article shines the light on people of my own heart: Aging video gamers who are turning their rec rooms into their own little arcades.

The grandparents of Michael Gabriele’s five children seem to visit more often lately at his house in Stormville, N.Y. “They say hi to the kids,” he said, “and then head straight for our recreation room.”

Everyone else follows, said Gabriele, 39, a mortgage banker, who has spent more than $30,000 during the past two years on seven arcade-style games, each in its own cabinet, to furnish his 650-square-foot game room. “We burn so much juice in there I had to have an electrician rewire the whole room.”

Gabriele says his game room is well worth the expense because it brings together different generations of his family. “It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I could live in there.”

But not enough for Gabriele. His buying binge embodies a trend among grown-ups who fed coins into Pac-Man and Missile Command machines in mall arcades in the 1980s. For them, home video-game systems like Sony’s PlayStation 2, which connect to a regular television and are played with hand-held controls, just don’t provide the right feel or enough thrills.

“Playing an actual arcade game, where you stand there over a control panel that has a joystick and flashing lights, is the ultimate way to play,” said Ryan Delaney, the principal of Taft Elementary School in Ashland, Ohio, who has two children. His home recreation room is filled with a half-dozen arcade games. His current favorite is the new Elvis pinball machine; it is priced at $4,275 from Stern Pinball. “It’s packed with action like hidden bumpers and very fast—plus it plays eight Presley songs from the King’s comeback tour in 1968,” Delaney said.

As a former kid who misspent a fair amount of his youth at the local mall hanging out in the Aladdin’s Castle arcade, I can remember dreaming of the day I’d own a house with a family room or basement that I planned to stock with five or six of my favorite arcade machines. I had a list of favorites drawn up that I was absolutely going to own and I actually do own one of them: Crazy Climber. Only problem is I still don’t own a house yet so it sits in my mother’s basement where my nephew makes a point of playing it whenever he visits. Still, the dream lives on and while I don’t know that I’ll ever have the resources to pull it off at least I can take comfort in the knowledge that I’m not the only geek with such a dream. The full list of five units I wanted to own consisted of:

  1. Crazy Climber
  2. Donkey Kong
  3. Joust
  4. Gauntlet
  5. Spy Hunter

It’s the stuff geek dreams are made of.

16 thoughts on “Having your own private arcade at home is a growing trend.

  1. My dream is to have Terminator II. My youngest son and I spent many a quarter [Dollars worth actualy….many, many dollars] on the dang thing. The kid learned teamwork, and we’d walk away after kicking that machine’s ass with cramps in our collective shooting fingers. Bring back the 90’s.
    Well, some of them.

  2. Word of warning. Ask yourself why a friend would offer you a classic cabinet Astroids for $50 before quickly writing the check. Got it home, plugged it in, achieved high score, retained high score by not turning off, bragged incessantly to friends, received monthly electric bill, paid triple the norm, and learned a valuable lesson; High scores are not worth a $280 electric bill.

  3. My Dad has been selling arcade games my whole life [past 18 years]. He is the middle man I guess you could say and works for a company called Cleveland Coin Machine Exchange or CCME who buys the games from the manufactures and sells them to the arcades.  I spent entire summers and weekends in the Free Play showroom as my Dad worked away in his office. Occasionally he would come out with a customer and the guy would ask me what my favorite game was out of the current selection and then buy it. So I guess you could say I was shaping arcades in the midwest for 5 years or so in the 90’s since CCME has little competition. Don’t blame me for the downfall of the community arcade though that started in the 80’s and earlier 😀 . I also would go on buisness trips with my dad to large arcades in Michigan and and elsewhere. I can remember meeting Marvin of “Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum” an arace famous here in Michigan for it’s collection of antique and odd games in no configuration just cluttered throughout the building. I remember he was a fat italian man and actually looked like Mario the nintendo plumber. He also had a gold pac-man necklace which when I was little I thought was amazing. A full grown man wearing a video game icon around his neck! While my dad and these arcade owners would talk they’d give me literally a bucket full of tokens which I would carry around and play games for a few hours. It’s really what got me started on all types of video games to this day. I even entered in Pinball tournaments and even won in my age bracket. Now I am not as old as you guys but I can say my favorite games over the years:

    No particular order just as I remember them:

    Who Done it [pinball]
    *Figure out a murder mystery while playing.

    Safecracker [pinball]
    *Play a board game and try to crack the safe
    if you did it a collectable gold coin would roll down the glass

    Gauntlet Legends [excellent remake of the classic]
    *best part you could save your character

    All the Raiden titles

    Dungeouns and Dragons [not sure of actual title]
    *hack and slash 2d scroller with path choices

    Mortal Kombats
    *I actually went on the MK4 tour and was allowed to the front of the line of a waiting 300 people or so, and later went in the back with the MK4 crew and has MK4 cake in a big party

    I have played just about every arcade game from about ‘92-‘02 but these were just a few that really stuck out in my mind when I look back on it. I am sure I am missing some real favorites and a few groundbreaking games.

  4. I had a pinball machine for several years:  Firepower II (I used to play the original one in college).  Everyone loved playing it.

  5. Ah Les, my old Apple IIe had all those games on it.  Alas, it was burninated in a house-fire.  downer

    My favorite on it was not any of those, but the Lode-Runner games.  Those were awesome, I don’t know how many hours I wasted away on those.

  6. Hey Slick! I still have an Apple IIe, running OS 7.  I was actually using it in the workshop up until three years ago.  Where can I get Asteroids?

  7. To all old-Apple fans that happen to be short the actual hardware, grab a copy of Basilisk II, download your free copy of OS 7.5 from Apple, and have at it.

  8. I played the Lode Runner games quite a bit myself, but on my trusty Commodore 64s. Did you know they actually turned Lode Runner into an arcade game? It was one of the first computer games to make the transition from computer to arcade game.

  9. I haven’t heard somebody talk about Lode Runner in I don’t know how long.  I loved that game.

  10. My top five
    1) Galaga—kick ass shoot em’ up
    2) Tron—cause if I owned one now I could then take the time to become good at it. Never could when I was younger no dinero.
    3) Gorf—Taunting bitch of a game. I’d show you who’s a friggin space cadet!
    4) Galaxian—Forerunner of Galaga. Primo shoot em’up
    5) Frogger—great when your stoned.

  11. I concur! I got the video game bug about 2 years ago. Now I own 20 games and 5 pinballs. I love working on them almost as much as playing them.  I knew nothing about repair, and have been self-taught over the past two years. My site, when it’s mature, will disseminate what I’ve learned in this great hobby.  Now if I only had room for 20 more games….


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