Arcade Cabinets are less magical than they seem. We associate them with feats of mystical transfer, of impossible travel, because they are close by when the magic occurs. But they’re not doors; they are more like door frames. The guts are typically one of a few standardized boards tuned to whatever experience the owner has decided upon, hooked into a screen, and also wired to a plate where button holes of various configurations have been punched through. Because the meat of that plate is functionally invisible, like so much of the cab, the solder is often, uh… enthusiastic. Let’s go with that. There are buckets inside to hold children’s money until a slightly agitated veteran of the Vietnam War comes to wring them out. At least, that’s what I remember.
When a trick is revealed, that usually does it for the “magic.” It slithers through the crack you’ve made, goes elsewhere, sets up shop. But there are so many sense memories associated with this type of equipment that knowing how it’s done can’t pierce it. It’s all wood inside, mostly wood, and sometimes there are bugs. Doesn’t matter. Their shape makes them this weird combination of public and private. Their nature as rented machines always places them slightly out of reach. Their attract mode invariably depicts the exploits of idiots and goofballs, cautionary tales, whose failures you vow not to repeat.
No doubt this is why Gabriel (well, Gabriels I guess, both Gabriels) have decided to reconstruct their respective fantasy arcades. He had a few machines years back that we got tremendous usage out of - in addition to the games themselves, and the playing thereof, Puzzle Bobble became a kind of arbitration engine for the resolution of grievances. The weird thing to realize when it comes to these machines is that there are many people who own them but do not have the cache of memories we do, which alters their respective valuation. Let me say that again, another way: there are people who have somehow acquired very cool cabinets, machines you would love to own, who think of them as a kind of unwieldy garbage. There are a couple different markets for equipment of this kind, people “selling” them and people “getting rid” of them. This is how Gabriel was able to amass his original hoard, two or three machines, for a couple hundred bucks apiece delivered.
He and I have somewhat different tastes; he tends toward dumb games, while I focus on games which are great. That’s mostly a joke. But his arcade ambitions have absolutely created a scenario in which I might be forced to buy “him” “his favorite game” for “his birthday.”