How to Start Your Own Arcade

Well, lets take a trip back in history.

If you were lucky enough to be in your pre-teens during the peak of arcades, like I did, then arcades probably hold a very fond place in your heart. Certainly it’s nostalgic, but it runs a lot deeper than that. It is without a doubt, a piece of your childhood as well as pop culture.

If you’re thinking about building your own arcade collection, I must offer this disclaimer: You’re going to be addicted the moment after you plug in your first game. They’ll be no going back.

Sure, you could be like everybody else and buy an Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, or whatever happens to be the best video game console out there. But guess what? Those console, while having all technology behind them, still won’t be able to compete with arcade classics like Burgertime, Street Fighter, Double Dragon, etc…Sure, the visuals & presentation will be greater on the consoles. But what’s the single most relevant aspect to playing video games? Fun! Capital F-U-N. All that other stuff is meaningless.

If there is one component that is missing from console games is that all encompassing experience that arcades brought to the table. Just think back to those old arcades. The machines entirely surrounded you. It was kind of like a capsule. All the bright lights and loud sounds that you were picking up was from this cocoon-like cabinet.

The statement that arises always when making the comparison is “But a console takes a few inches of space, you need a lot of room for arcade games”. This is 100% true. There is no getting around it.. Arcade games take up a lot of space. But for the real video game historian, some real estate in exchange for an engrossing hobby seems like a fair trade off. As log as what you’re doing is something you enjoy, there is no downside.

If you’re just starting out, here are some of the things that you should know about collecting arcade games before you just jump right in:

• 1) Space. I cannot stress this enough but you do in fact need space in your house to get into collecting arcade machines. First just start by finding enough space for a couple of machines then you’ll notice,your house tends to become more open. It’s funny how that works.

• 2) Be handy. Look at it like this: if you’re buying a 20 year old machine, you might get the random glitch. It comes with the hobby. Think if you were buying a 20 year old car. Chances are you’re going to have to get under the hood once in a blue moon.

This is especially true if you’re buying a machine that’s been in an arcade for its entire life. Just think of all those bratty kids that treated the joystick like it was their own personal pull-up bar. The game is going to be tired and is going to need some love and attention.

The good news is that there are literally hundreds of places you could go online for a missing part or manual for the machine that needs a little fix.

If you are not the handiest person in the world, its ok. I am positive you could find someone within your city limits that can fix an arcade game. Just think about every time you walk into a 7-11, laundromat, pool hall, etc, you always see at least one arcade game, don’t you? Well, chances are the owners of those games have people they use to work on any problems.

• 3) Where/Who do I buy the machines from? Thank goodness for the internet. There are many sites that sell arcade machines. Where I recommend purchasing arcade games is eBay. It may seem very obvious, and for good reason. eBay is the best place to purchase arcade games for several reasons:

• Selection – When you go to most other websites, you are only going to see what that particular seller (chances are he sells on eBay too), and only that seller, has available for sale. Meanwhile, going to eBay you will see hundreds, if not thousands of listings on arcade machines for sale.

• Price – If you’re just starting your collection, you came in at a very good time. Arcade machines are selling for a lot less than they used to be and eBay is where you will get the most competitive pricing. It makes sense. The more competition there is, the better the prices are going to be. A tried and true example of the free market?

• Feedback – This has to be the most important reason for buying machines through eBay. You can actually see what kind of reputation a seller has. If you went to another businesses’ website do you honestly think they’re going to report any problems they’ve had with past buyers? Of course they won’t.

But in eBay you get to see every seller’s feedback score. If you’re looking at a particular game that interests you, then all you have to do is look at the seller’s feedback and if it seems like he’s had some problems in the past with buyers, then you know its time to move on to the next one. Because chances are, someone else in eBay is selling the very same machine and also has a much better reputation with buyers.

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