3. Arcade Games


Growing up in the 80s was awesome! One of the best things about growing up in the 80s for me was that I developed a love of video games. I loved spending time at the arcade playing the classics like Tempest, Missile Command and Galaga. At home, we had an Atari 2600 and later a Nintendo NES. I loved it all.

In recent years, I purchased my absolute favourite arcade games of all time…..mainly because I’d rather play those games than most of the newer AAA titles that require a larger amount of available time. Since I have limited space, I had to make sure they were games I’d play a LOT of, and I’ve definitely kept true to that!

My favourite games (all of which I have in my collection) are:

  • Galaga (1981)
  • Tempest (1981)
  • Donkey Kong (1981)
  • Missile Command (1980)
  • Burgertime (1982)
  • Dig Dug (1982)
  • Pac-man (1980)
  • Ms. Pac-man (1981)
  • Robotron 2084 (1982)
  • Space Invaders (1978)
  • Arkanoid (1986)
  • Arkanoid II: Revenge of DOH (1987)
  • Tetris (1988)
  • RAIDEN (1990)
  • RAIDEN 2 (1993)
  • RAIDEN 2000 (1997)

My Burgertime, Missile Command, Galaga, Tempest, Robotron 2084 and Donkey Kong arcade machines shown in the pictures below are often called full-sized upright arcade machines. You can also get smaller versions of some arcade machines - these are called cabarets (or minis), and were common in places that didn’t have a lot of room for arcade machines, such as convenience stores.

Burgertime, Missile Command and Galaga

Tempest, Robotron 2084 and Donkey Kong

Many arcade games also had a sit-down table version (called a cocktail) that sat two players opposite each other. You took turns playing the game while sitting down (the screen flipped back and forth when it was your turn). Cocktail arcade tables were much more common than cabarets - you’d likely see one at your local bar, restaurant, or pizza parlour. Below is a picture of my Dig Dug cocktail table:

Dig Dug

As older games fell out of style in the 1980s, arcade makers would just ship new circuit boards, controls and artwork to arcade operators and they would convert an older arcade to a new game (arcade cabinet recycling). As a result, it’s difficult to find original games in their original state - many arcade collectors must restore the cabinets back to the original game that they housed.

So why collect arcades? Well, for one, they aren’t that expensive nowadays - only hundreds of dollars instead of thousands. But more importantly, you get to play the games of the golden era again in the way that they were meant to be played! This is great for people like myself who spent a lot of time in arcades of the 1980s, and who want to play those games again (instead of the more popular games of today). But it’s also great for those who are younger and into retro gaming (retro gaming is fast becoming very popular with younger generations, especially on the NES, SNES and Nintendo64 platforms).

However, if you want to buy an arcade machine today, don’t spend a fortune (they will break), and make sure you learn how to fix them yourself. There are whole communities of arcade game collectors out there that can help you - in Canada, you can join Classic Game Collectors Canada (CGCC), or if you are in the U.S., you can join the Killer List of Video Games (KLOV). And also watch the great YouTube videos with Todd Tuckey of TNT Amusements!

Game ON 2.0

Game ON 2.0 is the world’s largest video game exhibition! Originally from the Barbican Centre in London, England, it tours the world, and was at the Ontario Science Centre for 6 months in 2013 (Mar 9 - Sept 2). This exhibition was MASSIVE - everything from Pong to arcade games to console games to handheld games from all around the world. They even had a virtual reality sphere you could climb into and play. The whole exhibition blew your mind.


As you can see from the entrance shown above, our college (triOS College) was the presenting sponsor for the exhibition, which, for me was incredible…..not only because I ran our video game program at the time, created the information for the game development booth (part of the exhibition), gave numerous Ontario Science Centre talks on gaming topics, and helped organize various game-themed events…..but because I’m an avid retro gamer who has many of the same arcade machines and vintage consoles showcased in Game On 2.0 in my own home. For me, it was like merging my home and work lives. I could actually bring my personal passion and knowledge of retro gaming into my day job! Not many people can say that…..

Better yet, I got the privilege to meet and work with some absolutely amazing people from the Ontario Science Centre! I can’t express in words how genuinely wonderful these people were. The same goes for Barry Hitchings from the Barbican (the guru curator of Game On 2.0) - I’ve never met anyone with more technical knowledge of video games, and doubt that I ever will. Below is a picture of one of the many video game talks I gave during the 6 months of the exhibition, as well as a picture of me chillin’ next to PONG (the machine that actually jump-started the video game industry in 1972 and led Atari to fame):

GAME ON 2.0 presentation & Pong

Of course, the arcade game section of the exhibition was my favourite. Just before the exhibition opened, I took the Galaga machine to over a million points (rolling over the score). And the reason I bought the Missile Command machine you saw at the top of this page was because of the Missile Command machine at Game ON 2.0 - as soon as I played it, I remembered how incredibly awesome that game was, and just had to have one! To the right is a picture of me next to the Missile Command machine at Game ON 2.0 on the final day of the exhibition (I thought the picture was fitting ;-).

If you want to see more of Game ON 2.0, simply visit my blog posts from 2013 (I drove the social media aspect of the exhibition from a presentation sponsor perspective). You can also see the interactive touch panel content from the triOS part of the exhibit touch panel content from the triOS part of the exhibit.