As commercial arcades have slowly gone out of business, there’s been a void left by their absence. For many of us, spending (or perhaps mis-spending) our youths in rooms filled with games is a memory that we’ll cherish our entire lives. While you may be able to emulate 1,000 games on a single machine it doesn’t really compare to the experience of seeing 40 – 50 games lined up ready to play. What’s interesting is to see how the collector community is stepping in to fill this void.
Case in point, Scott Leftwich. After getting bit by the arcade bug, he managed to amass a collection of over 60 working games. Instead of keeping these games tucked away in his basement just for him to play, he’s started to open up his basement on weekends to the general public, so that they can help support the restorations that he takes on. For $10, anyone can get a personal tour of his games and can play on free play for 3 hours. While it’s always possible that city hall could come down on this sort of endeavor, we tend to find that local politicians like to support these sort of private museums. I know that in our own community, there are a ton of kids who like to stop by to oohhh and awe over our games. More than once, we’ve recruited a few as “beta testers” and allow them to play our games before we deliver them to our customers. On a couple occasions, they’ve actually found some flaws that needed adjusting before our games went out.
Michael Wiseman wrote a great article highlighting Leftwich’s efforts to share his collection and posted an interview with him on YouTube. In the article he delves a little deeper into why Leftwich choose to start a private arcade that he’s affectionately dubbed Wieners and Losers,
“the goal of Leftwich’s greatest missionary endeavor at Wieners and Losers. He knows you can play any arcade game you want on a smartphone, computer, or home gaming system, and many times for free. But those are like Frankenstein’s monster – all the nuts and bolts, and none of the heart. So by opening the doors to his private collection, Leftwich hopes to raise money to restore more machines. He’s offering hot dogs and jukebox full of decade-perfect hits.
Most importantly, Leftwich is giving visitors an experience they can’t find anywhere else. A look back at youthful summers, or endless weekends with quarters and friends. He’s bringing back a cultural experience long since forgotten. And he couldn’t happier to spread the good word.”
What I found most interesting about the article was the fact that Leftwich considers Warp Warp to be be one of his crown jewels. We have a Warp Warp in our collection and while it doesn’t get a lot of play, we feel the same way. There’s something really nice about being able to save a game that is uncommon for future generations to be able to play.