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Showcase: Elbow Room Arcade

Some of us bemoan the fact that we have little space in our houses, if any, to have our own gameroom. A dedicated space to while away hours moving pixels on a screen with a joystick can take a back seat to arguably more necessary uses for space in our homes like, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, etc. Therefore, those who don’t have any extra space most often accept their fate of reliving the glory days by playing MAME on the laptop. Not Greg Williams, however. When faced with not having a dedicated gameroom inside his home, he simply built one in the backyard.

What looks like an ordinary tool shed is, in fact, a secret man cave bursting at the seams with 80’s nostalgia. Built entirely by Greg and his friends, this cozy 10×14 arcade makes for close quarters, hence the clever name: “Elbow Room”. For some, it may seem crazy to build a dedicated arcade in your backyard, but for someone as addicted to classic coin-op gaming as Greg, it would have been crazy not to.

The first game I ever remember seeing and playing was at a local ice skating rink in the late 70’s. That game was Sea Wolf by Midway. I remember standing on the step and still having to stand on my tippy-toes to look through the periscope. A few years later, I would tag along with my older brother to hang out at the pizza place where his girlfriend worked and play Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong Jr., and Zaxxon

Those first impressions were strong, but it wasn’t until later in life that the love of the game resurfaced and sank its teeth in.

I got started collecting thanks …to Namco Museum for PS2! I bought a PS2… with a few games, one of which was Namco Museum, because it had Ms. Pac Man – my wife’s favorite game. She would play it and complain about the controller, how it “wasn’t the same as the arcade version”, so I did some research and bought a used X-arcade controller on ebay with a PS2 adapter. It still kinda sucked so (after a) bit more research I discovered MAME and decided to scratch build a cabinet. It has a Rolling Rock beer theme, since I have a small collection of RR beer items. It’s in the house in my “office”. Everything just snowballed from there. I joined KLOV and started looking for dedicated cabs, and now I have a nice (if small) home arcade.

Elbow Room arcade is jam-packed with classic games. What looks like it would only be able to contain a lawnmower and a few garden hoses is suprisingly able to house full-upright arcade cabinets like Donkey Kong, Asteroids Deluxe, Space Invaders, Baby Pac Man, Assault, Millipede, Ms. Pac Man, and if that weren’t shocking enough – a sit-down “cockpit” Pole Position. Aside from actual games this compact space also sports plenty of arcade-inspired ephemera all over the walls. Merging the arcade theme along with the “Elbow Room” name is a Mario-style elbow joint plumbing fixture that holds arcade tokens that operate the games.

 

Our favorite feature here at Gameroom Junkies is the Cold War-era style power hub. It’s not just for looks either- it’s practical. Two of the switches power on all of the outlets that the cabs are plugged into, and the other two switches turn on the black lights along with Greg’s favorite feature – a back-lit Kong Off marquee signed by “King of Kong” stars Billy Mitchell, Steve Wiebe, current high score record holder Hank Chien, and other high-score luminaries.

Not that a true Gameroom Junkie could ever call his or her gameroom “complete”, Greg is happy that his focus can shift from actually constructing the Elbow Room his home arcade and focus on the plethora of restoration candidates in his garage. Although there may not be very much elbow room in The Elbow Room Arcade, there’s plenty of room for fun. So scoot over and make some room – I want in!

Preston Burt

The co-host of the Gameroom Junkies Podcast, Preston is a writer and designer living outside Atlanta, GA. He has an affinity for VHS tapes, and an obsession with arcade games and pinball machines. He is a contributing writer for GeekDad, Paste and RETRO Magazines, and a founder of the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo.

4 Comments

  1. I personally have visited this Oasis of Arcades. Its really a neat set up and ones place of ZEN…
    Greg added really neat brick panelling to the walls and Black lighting to the whole room.

    It was a neat experience playing and admiring his hard work here…

    Thanks Greg and KUDOS !!!!

  2. I love looking through the game rooms on this website, but I keep coming back to this one. I can totally relate to a lack of real-estate when it comes to having an arcade at home. This example is a total inspiration, proving that you don’t need a lot of square footage to create an awesome gaming environment!

    Kudos!!

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