What Do I Do Now?
When people are looking to improve their game room, they inevitably look to arcade games and pinball machines to fill them. This means one of two things – either bringing in a classic machine that may need some TLC (in some cases, a full restoration) or else, bringing in a brand new arcade cabinet or pinball machine.
If you’re new to the hobby, you may find yourself in this situation. You may be surfing Craigslist and find someone selling a classic Pac Man cabinet for $50 with “minor water damage”. You could buy one of our arcade cabinet kits (hint, hint!) as well as the parts, and then say, “Well, now what?”
There are a number of fantastic resources out there that can help. Web forums have always been the “go to” for arcade information, and they are frequented by experts and hobbyists alike, all happy to share their knowledge with other like-minded individuals.
The most popular online source for arcade information is undoubtedly The International Arcade Museum, affectionately known as “KLOV“, which stands for “the Killer List Of Videogames”. If you have a friend who knows arcades, you may have heard the word “KLOV” mentioned before. On these forums, you will find everything from hobbyists to “arcade purists”. (The arcade purist is the guy who will come to your house, and be able to tell you that your Robotron 2084 joysticks have the wrong leaf switches in them, because they’re “a bit too loud to be authentic”.) Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying this is a bad thing. On the contrary, KLOV is “the” go to place for the most technical of information. If you absolutely, positively need to know the number of threads on the shaft of a Sanwa balltop joystick, chances are there’s someone there with this information readily available.
At the top of the list as well is the Build Your Own Arcade Controls forums, or the “BYOAC“. Run by John St. Clair (“Saint”), author of the book, “Project Arcade”, this website has a huge Member base, and has been immensely popular since 1999. Many of the Members are “long-timers”, who have been around – and active – since the site’s inception. There is a real sense of community on the site, and new visitors are made to feel welcome quickly. The site has a yearly “BYOAC User Choice Awards” that is Member-driven, and showcases the “best of the best” builds from that year, including categories for full-size dedicated and multi-arcade cabinets, small dedicated and multi-arcade cabinets, pedestals, hardware and software. The BYOAC is a fantastic resource for the first-time builder, hobbyist, and people who like the sense of community.
In Canada, we have our own little home on the Internet, the Classic Gaming Collectors of Canada forums. The local forums are a great place for arcade enthusiasts across Canada to gather and share ideas and information. Each year, the site hosts a bi-annual Video Gaming Meet, where Members and the Public can congregate, showcase products they may have and share their wares, and talk about all things arcade.
For a very dedicated, close-knit community, you should check out Bartopmania. With a focus on smaller, robust table-top arcade cabinets, the forums are growing every day, and have a wealth of information for the builder/hobbyist in all of us. If you don’t have the room for a full-size arcade machine, you may be drawn to building a bartop unit – and there’s no better place for inspiration than Bartopmania.
If you’re a Redditor, you may not have known that the site houses two very popular subreddits for the arcade enthusiast. Both r/cade and r/MAME subreddits are fantastic places to ask questions, and invite the public to comment on your posts. Reddit isn’t called “the front page of the Internet” for nothing – anyone online is able to post replies to your comments, and moderation is usually pretty lean. Reddit does command a world-wide audience, however, and that makes it a very good tool to learn and share ideas.
Whether you’re just starting out with arcades, or if you’re a long-time gamer who remembers the ‘good old days’ when every mall had a fully-stocked arcade, there are a large number of online resources and communities for us to visit, learn and share.