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:
It’s the stuff geek dreams are made of.