So I was thinking about some of the great experiences I have had over the past 15 years collecting arcade games. Some good , some bad , and some that I would pay good money to be able to forget. It seems like most of the bad experiences come early on in this hobby, before patience and discipline can win out over reckless decisions to buy everything that you can possibly fit into whatever space you have left. Buyers' remorse is a valuable lesson learned and best learned quickly.
There are five things ( other than buyers' remorse ) that I think every collector should experience at least once. These are experiences that in my opinion will make a collector well-rounded and appreciate the hobby a little more. So check it out and see what you think.
5. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
This really is my favorite arcade of all time and is ranked nationally as one of the best. It is one of the best examples of arcade games still in their natural habitat. The Boardwalk is over 100 years old and still going strong. Wanna make sure it is there for another 100 years ? Then get going and drop some coins in the games and a few bucks on some rides and some food. Their new slogan says "100 years, millions of memories " . I have been going there since I was a kid. This place oozes nostalgia out of every nook and cranny. I never wanna forget what a real arcade was like and as long as this place is still around I wont have to worry.
4. Attend an auction.
Truth is, I have been to a lot of auctions and only bought a total of 2-3 games. Still, it's fun and you never know what you will see. It's pretty exciting when you are actually bidding on a game you want. Just remember what I said about buyers remorse.
3. The California Extreme Show.
Everyone needs to attend this at least once. Collecting can't just be all buying, selling, searching, and restoring your own games. You need to come to this show and just relax, have a good time, and play the games . Meet other collectors, play a game that is on your want list to see if you still want it , check out the guest speakers , and just take it all in.
2. Restore a game.
And I don't mean just slap on a new control panel overlay and paint the coin the door. I mean really restore a game. Bring one back that no one else would touch. Convert one back that was a goner. Save one that most other people would part out in a heartbeat. Don't look at the cost. Just do it. Don't let anyone talk you out of it. Don't even let anyone know until you are finished. It will be rewarding beyond words.
1. Warehouse raid.
Probably the best 2 words a collector can ever hear. They are becoming a little more scarce but they are still out there, hiding, biding there time , waiting to be discovered like an ancient crypt. This is probably the single most exciting thing I have ever done in regards to collecting. Nothing like walking into a warehouse with a few hundred games waiting to be rescued. A room full of motherboards and miscellaneous parts . A hungry operator wanting to sell it all for a good price. This is the ultimate experience . At the opposite end of the spectrum from the Cal Extreme and the Boardwalk are these neglected games that need to be discovered and saved. Don't give up the search.
So there it is. My list. I have been fortunate enough to experience each of these things a few times. The Boardwalk reminds me why I collect. The auction and warehouse raids give the thrill of the hunt. Restoring a game is the reward. The Cal Extreme show is the break we all need to come together and realize we are not alone in this madness.
Maybe your priorities vary a little. Maybe you have experienced all of these things yourself and agree or disagree . Maybe you are just getting started and haven't had a chance yet. If this list motivates you to act or reminds you of some good times collecting then great. If not, make your own list and get out there and do it.