So you’ve de­cided that you’re go­ing to build your own ar­cade. Be­fore you jump in, con­sider this ad­vice from our bat­tle-worn ex­perts:


Re­search, re­search, re­search “Do your re­search on pric­ing – don’t get ripped off,” says Bren­dan Bai­ley. “As much as I’ve met some truly re­mark­able and amaz­ing and tal­ented peo­ple in this hobby, there are some scum­bags. There’s def­i­nitely peo­ple that kind of prey on the new­bies. And ed­u­cate your­self on what kinds of prob­lems are ex­pen­sive ones to fix. So, for ex­am­ple, if you buy a pin­ball ma­chine that has a bro­ken flip­per, it’s prob­a­bly not go­ing to cost you that much to fix that flip­per, but if you buy a pin­ball game that has a CPU board that has acid dam­age on it, that’s an ex­pen­sive fix. Know­ing what kinds of prob­lems are go­ing to cost you more money is a huge, huge fac­tor.”

Get out there and meet peo­ple “If you want to col­lect – I mean, like more then one game – you just have to get out and meet peo­ple,” says John Ja­cob­sen. “That’s when the hobby be­comes easy. That’s when the hobby be­comes less ex­pen­sive, be­cause if you just go on Craigslist or Ebay it’s go­ing to be a very ex­pen­sive jour­ney. If you just want one game, go on Ebay/Craigslist and do it – there’s no sense in try­ing to meet 20 guys to buy one game – but if you want to have a col­lec­tion, you’ve got to meet peo­ple.”

A pin­ball ta­ble is not a toaster Gary Vincent: “Peo­ple of­ten come in and say to me, ‘Oh, I’d love to have a pin­ball ma­chine at my house – where can I buy one?’ I hate to be neg­a­tive, but some­times you have to be re­al­is­tic about things, so I ask, ‘Do you know how to fix a pin­ball ma­chine?’ In­evitably the an­swer is, ‘Well, no, I don’t’. And I say, ‘Let me tell you, a pin­ball ma­chine is fun. It’s a great con­ver­sa­tion piece to have in a house. But if it doesn’t work, what are you go­ing to do?’ If you can’t fix it your­self, that means you have to find somebody who will come to your house and fix it be­cause it’s not like it’s a toaster, where you can put it in the front seat of your car and take it to some­one and say, ‘Hey, my toaster doesn’t work’. It’s a big, heavy, piece of fur­ni­ture, so un­less you can fix it, I would gen­er­ally ad­vise against it. Try to get a videogame cab­i­net.”

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