Gameroom Showcase: The Garage Arcade

For most people I know, their garage acts as a “catch all” location in their home. It’s a place homeowners use to store their lawnmower, Christmas and Halloween decorations, perhaps an extra freezer, or if you’re one of the rare ones – an actual car or two.  That’s why, when the garage door comes up at Shawn Gioiosa’s place, jaws drop. You see, Shawn’s garage is a “catch all” as well. However, the things that his garage catches are Muppets, Sith Lords, Gremlins, along with an amazing collection of games.

For Shawn, games have been a part of his life since an early age.

Growing up my father was the regional manager for Charlie Chan restaurants, a Chinese fast food franchise in many mall food courts on the east coast in the early 80’s. So I spent much of my early childhood in malls and arcades. I’d be in the mall before it opened and knew a lot of the arcade managers. My coolest memory was seeing Dragons Lair being brought to the floor for the first time.  I had no idea what it was and spent most of the day blown away watching people play it.  Arcades were a HUGE part of my childhood and I’m sure buying all these games is my way of trying to get some of that back.

While I don’t spy a Dragon’s Lair in Shawn’s current collection, that “gateway game” has paved the way for a serious collection of arcade and pinball machines. Immaculate examples of 80’s classics such as Battlezone, Centipede, and Tron line the walls walls next to some more modern games like Star Wars: Pod Racer, Lethal Enforcers, and Street Fighter II. Cohabitating with his amazing arcade collection are arguably, some of the greatest pinball machines of the modern era. Lord of the Rings, Revenge From Mars, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and several other classics line the walls of the arcade all sporting unique and eye-catching toppers.

If all that wasn’t stunning enough, you need to know that what I just described only covers the upstairs portion of his garage. Yes, that’s right, this garage is a two-story detached structure and the gameroom extends downstairs as well. The bottom floor is a gameroom in its own right housing a pool table, mini bar, flat screen TV, as well as several coin-op games along with enough decorations and tchotchkes  to make T.G.I. Fridays jealous.

Having a gameroom in a 2-story garage comes with advantages and disadvantages alike

I love that the gameroom is detached from the house. The house isn’t messed up after big parties and if I don’t feel like cleaning up afterward it’s not a big deal. Getting all the games up to the 2nd floor does make life interesting sometimes. I had to hire movers to get my Star Wars Racers up and into the 2nd floor.

As impressive as this massive collection of games and collectibles is, it’s hard to think that this all stemmed from the purchase of a single arcade machine. From there, it seems the games have multiplied like rabbits and Shawn’s unique interests proved to be motivation for the decorations that make his gameroom stand out from others.

I started with a Donkey Kong Junior machine for my garage/billiards room, the idea being I’d have one arcade game for when people came over. That didn’t quite work out and I had to finish the upstairs to be the arcade. Other than being 2-floors, all my movie stuff probably makes my gameroom a bit different than others. I was a film student in college and work in the entertainment industry so movies are a big part of my life. I have a bunch of life size figures in both rooms. Some compliment the games and others are waiting around for games to be made about them. When’s that Muppet pinball machine happening?

It seems one of the only problems with having a gameroom this awesome is that there’s no more room left for new machines. Shawn says that he only has the space for one more pinball machine before he’s completely maxed out. That is, however, until he decides to utilize his attached garage as overflow. Cause, you know, who needs to worry about having a place to park your cars? With a gameroom this glorious, I can’t imagine ever leaving home.


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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.

One Comment

  1. Hi Shawn,
    You mention that your dad was a regional manager for the Charlie Chan restaurant franchise back in the 1980s. I worked at one of the outlets in the Metcalf South Mall in Overland Park, Kansas, and just created a Facebook group site called “We Worked At Charlie Chan’s At Metcalf South Mall.” I believe I have the largest collection of memorabilia from the restaurant, including photos, cups, napkins, advertising misc., etc… If your father is still living and if he would like to contribute his memories of working for the company, we would love to have him join our group. Our location was owned by Dick & Gay Williams, and they are contributors to the site. Thanks! Brad Moore, Overland Park, KS

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