Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taking Your Basement Arcade to the Next Level

So you have a sweet basement arcade stocked with great games, but something is missing. You love playing your games with a few friends, but that classic arcade feeling is missing. What is one to do? Today I am going to discuss a little more on the basement arcade and how you can take it from feeling like a personal connection to feeling like a real arcade.

First thing to discuss is your reason for wanting that arcade feeling in your basement (or home) arcade. This really only applys to people who love the social/community aspect of the arcade. If want to recapture that feeling of competition amongst others in a friendly social environment, then going for the arcade feeling is for you. If you are looking at starting a legit arcade for profit, then the basement is not an ideal situation. This is not to say that you can not take inn money for repairs and maintenance (think donations), but requiring people to pay per game could be a huge no no. You have local laws that most likely prevent a business operating in a residential area, issues with business/home owners insurance, creating an LLC, taxes, fees for each cabinet (another by city/town/state law), and the headache of strangers walking through your house. So what can you do?

First option is the donation way to run a basement arcade. What you need to do is see if you can operate within a residential neighborhood. If you can, then you need to look into your insurance policy and decide if a donation system would be legit. Quite a few people in the Bemani community have taken their basement arcade to the next level this way. They have their contact information on a website and open their arcade up either by appointment or for special events like tournaments. All they ask for in return is a donation to help maintain the games and to also go towards any future kits/upgrades. This method allows you to create a social gaming community and capture that arcade feeling. You are also helping to support a community of gamers (in this case Bemani gamers) by providing an experience that can't be had playing console versions of games.

Another option is to host invitational gaming events at your house. If you have a decent collection of arcade games, and you attend some arcade events or belong to arcade related online comminities, why not host an arcade event? Nick, the Sarge and I attended an awesome pinball event in Maine about a year or two ago. It started off as all you can play with byob. It was also recommended to bring snacks to contribute to the food. To attend cost no money, however a tournament was ran there and you needed to put in money for the tournament. The money collected was used as prize money. This event had a great social atmosphere that brought a lot of pinball players together to hang out and play some pinball. If you wanted to make some money for maintenance, you could take a percentage of the money collected for a tournament. Be sure to let everyone know you are doing this. Also the invitational part helps with keeping any unsavory characters out of your house.

Retrocade (http://retrocadeweb.webs.com/) is a great example of this invitational model that deserves a paragraph of their own. This was started in a guys basement with some consoles and has grown to include full size arcade machines, tournaments, prizes, food, etc. The owner has created a website to document his basement arcade events. His reason for doong this is to create that classic arcade feel. He has contact information on his site, some history about how he started, past events, and even some media about his basement. The owner also uses social arcade gaming sites like the forums over at www.classicarcadegaming.com to get the word out about his events. With between 30 and 40 people attending, this has to be a blast.

So I covered some material on basement arcades that I have covered in previous posts, just with a little more depth. I also introduced the new notion of starting arcade events in the home to help with the community aspect of gaming. Getting some arcade cabinets and dimming the lights is just part of getting the arcade feel in your home. Without a community of gamers it will never be the same.

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