The Building of a Dream: Our Game Room

Where we live, arcades are no more. The closest thing we have to one is the kid's section at Luigi's. You know something's wrong when you gotta hit your local Italian restaurant to get your arcade groove on. Tina and I decided that we would build our own little sanctuary full of digital happiness and fond memories. For the longest time, we just didn't have any space to do it. But at the end of last year, we gained the use of an entire garage to do what we wanted with. And so our plans formed and soon we started building our dream...


So here's what we had to start with. Actually, this is after about a month of cleaning out heaps of crap. The house was built in the 60s and I don't think the garage had ever been cleaned once since.

The laundry room is right next door. Here's a genius idea: Why not exhaust the dryer lint directly into the garage? I'll tell you why not - because it's DISGUSTING. Seriously, we scooped out PILES of laundry lint and it was just vile.

Here's my Mom and Tina looking far too happy to be sweeping up rubble.

20 sheets of drywall, 2 massive coats of paint, 1 new garage door, and 1 awesome black-light carpet later, our game room is finally suitable for our wide variety of games.

This is the "seating" side. We're working on getting some new furniture in the near future (particularly a loveseat with dual recliners built into it). If you look on the back wall, you'll see those black boxes next to the door. Those are two power centers that individually control the power to 10 different objects in the gameroom. As soon as you walk in, you just push the button to the machine you want on and it'll be up and running by the time you stroll up to it.

The first game you'll see as you walk in is our Skee-Ball Machine which has been made famous by our annual Skee Ball for Candy Tournament.

Next is our basketball machine. I love that Spider-Man basketball.

Any arcade needs at least one classic-style standup machine and so here we have Double Dragon II - The Revenge. That's some quality beat 'em up gameplay right there. This is a fully dedicated JAMMA cabinet, although I have various other JAMMA PCBs that I swap out from time to time.

This is currently my favorite arcade machine of all time - Fighting Mania! This machine is very hard to find and a nightmare to maintain. But damn if it isn't the most fun thing ever. Have you ever heard of Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken)? If so, you're in for a treat. Basically, you take the role of the hero Kenshiro (you can also be Rei and even Raoh if you unlock them) and beat up on evil baddies one on one. How do you beat them up? Well, that's what those six red pads are for. The red pads are targets that swing out at you and light up. You have to use timing and speed to punch them quickly and accurately. If your timing is off, the enemy does damage to you. If it's good, you'll do damage to them. Each enemy you face will require a special attack to be performed at the end including the awesome "Hundred Crack Fist" which has all the punch pads swing out at you repeatedly as you punch as fast as you can!

Next we have the "Rescue Dogs" Japanese pachinko machine. This is more about gambling than playing. All you need to do is twist the knob so that the little balls shoot into the playfield (presumably you purchase the balls from the establishment). Every time you get a ball into the "SOS" hole, the wheel spins (on the LCD display in the middle) and you have the potential to hit a jackpot (and you could potentially make money by ending up with more balls than you originally bought). There are really cute anime sequences that play out with a Rescue Dog saving a damsel in distress from a variety of precarious situations.

It's like having your very own slice of Vegas - except that here you leave with your wallet still intact.

In the middle of the game room we have a seventy-something inch screen which we use to watch movies and play MAME. The projector is hooked up to our HTPC as well as several game systems. Here you can see the Simpsons Arcade game in all of its glory. Behind the screen is a window - it's important that the game room is well ventilated to regulate the temperature and keep the air from getting stale. Have you ever smelled a commercial arcade with no ventilation? Yeah, that's the kind of thing we want to avoid.

Metal Slug! Mission.... one!

The MAME front end where you can choose your pleasure and relive the yesteryears.

Using MAME without an arcade-style stick is like playing DDR without dance pads. It sucks. We bought an X-Arcade and it does the trick pretty well. The stick is stuck to a sturdy but small desk with nice casters on it. We roll it to the middle of the room when we want to play MAME and then quickly roll it to the side of the room when we want to do something else like watch a movie.

Speaking of DDR, Tina and I play it at least a few times a week as part of our excercise routine. Our current favorite is DDR Extreme 2 on the PS2. These pads are really nice, I bought them off of Ebay. They have hard foam inside, so they are very comfortable and accurate.

This camera doesn't take good night pictures, but you can sort of see how the carpet glows in the dark.

That's because I installed 6 black light fixtures on the ceiling. The carpet is specially designed to react to it.

There is blue rope light that surrounds the entire room up at the ceiling. We also have 7.1 channel surround sound and I built and installed shelves in all the right locations for the full effect.

This is a better picture to see the rope light. I really like the fact that the ceiling has rafters because it made it much easier to install the hundreds of feet or wiring and extension cords. Plus, they don't stand out as much as they would with a solid ceiling.

Time to watch a movie! You can see the rope light above. We generally watch movies with that as the only light, it is sort of reminiscent of a theater (except with the lights on the celing instead of the floor). The movie playing is the Exorcism of Emily Rose, only because that was the movie we had from Netflix on the day I decided to take pictures.

Here's a bubble light we got just for decor. The light gradually changes colors.

Can you name this game? This is one of the JAMMA PCBs I have that I throw into the Double Dragon II cabinet. The game is fairly awful, but there's something uniformly captivating about the fact that the protagonists are wearing old-school rollerskates and baseball caps (and it's also a beat 'em up). The game is also full of non-politically-correct material such as what can be considered racial defamantion as well as gay bashing. Ahhh, the 80s.

Possible additions? Well, we're looking to get a pinball machine at some point, preferably Indiana Jones because that's Tina's favorite (too bad it's super expensive). I'd also consider getting a gun game like the House of the Dead. If I had more room I'd also build a sit-down driving game, but that'll have to wait until we move to a larger house.

I hope you enjoyed the tour - see you next time!