I have this dream where I go back in time to the 80s. I’m in the arcade at Golf n’ Stuff, and I find my younger self (10 or 11 years old) feverishly shoving quarters into every game that catches his eye. Younger me knew these games were so mindblowingly (it’s now a word) amazing that home consoles (Atari 2600, Colecovision, at the time) were never going to have games that could compete. Arcade games also had these menacing looking black-framed machines with lights and sounds and cool 70s and 80s sci-fi art plastered all over them. This was truly my youthful nirvana. Younger me loved arcades so much that even when we went to Disneyland as a family, younger me would try to slip away and go to the arcade.
So this younger me is now down to his last quarter, frantically scanning all the arcade marquees looking for which one he should play last before he leaves this oasis of 2-D electric joy for the bland, fully 3-D desert of life. As younger me fights back a tear, not knowing which game to play, not knowing when he will come back again with another pocket of quarters, one thought comes to his mind: “What if I could own my very own arcade machine! How awesome would that be!” A flicker of a smile appears on his face and quickly disappears as rational thoughts push out joyous ones. “How could I ever afford an arcade machine of my own when I’m struggling to come up with a few quarters to put into a game. This will NEVER happen.” Right then, I lean over to my younger self and say: “Someday you will have all these games on your own computer, and it will be amazing.”
At the end of my dream, younger me high-5s older me and then puts his last quarter into skeeball. That punk.
No, wait, that’s not how it ends. Bear with me here. It ends with younger me becoming older me, finding MAME online, tarding way too hard with the classic games of arcades long gone, and then receiving a copy of the book Project Arcade, Build Your Own Arcade Machine. Having read the book several times, scoured the interwebs, done the research and put my time into finding what I want my machine to look and sound like (Cobra from GI Joe theme), younger me, now much much older, is ready to build his very own arcade machine, with almost every game ever created inside. And it will be awesome.