Home is coin-operated museum

(Peoria) Journal Star
WASHINGTON, Ill. - Dan Metroff has a basement game room that any child can love. In the lower level of his home in rural Washington there are some 20 coin-operated devices, including a pinball machine, slot machines, an electronic keno game, a jukebox, a vintage riding horse, a shooting gallery and penny arcade games with mechanical claws to grasp stuffed animals and toys inside glass cases.
Off the game room is a small room designed to look like a 1950s diner.
"My granddaughter had her fourth birthday party this spring in my basement," said Metroff, 51. "The kids loved the diner. And there were lines up three deep to get on that riding horse in our game room."
Metroff, a machinist at Caterpillar Inc., spends most of this free time in the game room, where there is a wall-mounted, flat-screen television, a wooden bar that dates back to the early 1900s, a card table and chairs, plus his coin-operated machines, old photos and numerous old signs - many of them advertising Coca-Cola. A red-and-white-striped couch in the game room was made from an old Coca-Cola cooler.
For Metroff's wife, Dianna, the spacious upstairs sewing room is where she spends a good deal of her time making wedding dresses and doing alterations for friends. She is a purchasing agent for the inpatient pharmacy at a local hospital.
The two moved into their Cape Cod home 2 1/2 years ago. They brought with them the machines from the game room of their previous home in Peoria.
"I've always had a fascination with coin-operated machines," Dan Metroff said. "About 15 years ago I bought a Coca-Cola machine from the 1950s for $150. It was very rusty. I tore it apart and restored it. And that got me started collecting all sorts of machines."
Over the years, Metroff has purchased machines at shows in Chicago, area flea markets and over the Internet. Many of them are antiques.
His prize is a Watling slot machine from the late 1800s. He also has a number of machines that date to the early part of the 20th century. Prominently displayed is a reproduction of an old popcorn machine and a Twilight Zone pinball machine made in 1994.
"All the machines are set up to operate with tokens of free play," Metroff said. "That's the only way to legally own slot machines in Illinois. I'm not a gambler. I don't go to the gambling boat. I like playing the slot machines, but I don't like losing money. Nobody loses here."
Metroff said he typically buys his machines for between $800 and $2,000. When they are restored, he sells some for a modest profit.
His diner is a small room with a linoleum floor that has a black-and-white checkerboard pattern. The room features a penny weight scale, a Route 66 neon clock, old photos of Peoria, old Coca-Cola signs, the large 1950 Coca-Cola machine and a booth from an old ice cream parlor. On the booth is a tabletop jukebox record selector.
"When we have parties, our guests love playing the machines," Metroff said. "They also think our diner is a lot of fun."
"The living room is our museum," Dianna Metroff said with a smile. "It's like our basement. There are some antique machines and some fun things in it that our grandchildren love."
The living room has several coin-operated machines, including Metroff's Watling slot machine. It also features a short row of movie seats from a theater of the late 1800s, an antique brass cash register from 1910, a wooden hobby horse, a reproduction of a Rock-ola Bubbler jukebox from the 1950s and several toy pedal cars.


Aussie Game Developer Expands Operations In Philippines

September 13, 2006 6:52 a.m. EST
Komfie Manalo - All Headline News Foreign Correspondent
Manila, Philippines (AHN) - Australian video game distribution Matahari Studios has established a subsidiary office in the Philippines with the aim of tapping Filipino talents to develop arcade-style video games.
The office is located in the business district of Ortigas Center in Pasig City. Matahari's subsidiary in the Philippines would develop mostly video games for video games arcades, particularly for the popular Timezone arcade centers.
Timezone is a sister company of Matahari and are owned by LAI Games.
Matahari general manager Eric Marlow said the company already has several concept games to be developed into actual games. He expects the first game developed in the Philippines to be launched by early next year as he said it takes between 18 months and 22 months to develop an arcade game depending on its complexity.
But he said that once Matahari's exclusive clause with Timezone expires, the arcade games developed in Manila will be sold to other arcade companies both in the Philippines and in the international market.
He said, "Every month we're screening hundreds of applications but we've so far hired only 13 people. It takes a specific skill set to be in this job because we're not going to train new hires with basic video game making because they have to pick that up as they go along."
Marlow said they hope to hire at least 18 more people within the year.


Gizmo Fans Excited By Latest Video Games

September 14, 2006
By Chief GizmateerContributing Writer, RealTechNews
At an annual arcade expo in Japan, gizmo fans got a treat as the latest video games and technologies were unveiled. For example, Sega’s new virtual driving arcade machine apparently really rocks the drivers as one fan mentioned the game “really makes your body feel vibrations coming right up from your butt”.
One of the most interesting games came from Nameco as they unveiled a on-line video game machine supporting up to 16 players battling in a virtual war game. Players can join the game from different locations but continue to remain in contact through their headsets.


'Filmgame' Firm Cecropia Adds Veteran To Advisory Board

Massachusetts-based alternative game development studio Cecropia, which Gamasutra profiled exclusively back in December 2004, has announced that it has added industry veteran Ronald Baum to the company's Advisory Board. The company is currently developing its first “filmgame,” The Act, created by former Disney Feature Film Animation Studio animators. A romantic comedy originally aimed at arcade audiences, using a unique 'knob' controller, The Act is a game built around social interaction that Cecropia hopes will draw in a large audience thanks to its simplicity, as well as its story, animation, and addictive gameplay. In The Act, players must control the visual personality cues in the animated characters in order to move to the next level of the game. Cecropia will showcase The Act at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, taking place from September 22 through September 24.Baum co-founded and is vice president of sales and marketing for Cashbox Games, a design and manufacturer of redemption and merchandising equipment for the coin operated marketplace. He is a 25-year veteran of the coin-op industry, having served as both a supplier and in executive sales positions for several coin-op manufacturers such as Williams Electronics, Midway Games, Team Play and Global VR. “Ron is an expert in seeking out, understanding, and meeting the needs of the customer in the interactive entertainment market,” commented Cecropia Founder Omar Khudari, “His expertise will be invaluable for our marketing efforts.”Cecropia itself was established in 2001 by Omar Khudari, co-founder of the game developer Papyrus Design Group (Grand Prix Legends). The Cecropia team is comprised of veterans of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar, DreamWorks and Blue Sky and video gaming industry veterans from Papyrus Design Group, Sierra On-line, Hasbro Interactive and Atari. The company has not yet announced explicit launch plans for the title.


Games not over

Classic arcade machines still providing fun in private homes
By Bob Wheatonbwheaton@flintjournal.com • 810.766.6375
Did you know?
"Space Invaders," released in 1978, is considered by many to be the game that kicked off the video game popularity explosion.
"Pac Man," first released in the United States in 1980, was called Puck Man in Japan, but the U.S. title was changed because it sounded too much like, well, you know.
"Centipede," released in 1980, had a spinoff called Millipede that was released two years later, but the first version was a bigger hit.
"Frogger," released in 1981, was featured in an episode of the television show "Seinfeld" in which George Costanza tried (and failed) to save a Frogger arcade game on which his high score from years ago was still recorded.
"Donkey Kong," released in 1981, was originally set to be based on the Popeye characters, but a licensing deal fell through.
Source: Wikipedia.com
Mike Braekevelt's house is a dream come true for arcade addicts who came of age in the 1980s.
Braekevelt, 40, can play "Ms. Pac Man," "Asteroids," "Donkey Kong," "Centipede" and dozens of other video game favorites at his Tyrone Township home. If he's in the mood for pinball, his options are just as numerous.
And we're not talking about a retooled Atari 2600 or another multi-game system that hooks up to the TV.
Braekevelt's got the real enchilada: the same game consoles that used to be played by soda-slurping, hot pretzel-eating teens in dimly lit mall arcades in Anytown, U.S.A.
Popularity of classic arcade games in recent years has shot up as fast as a pinball wizard's score, said Mike Wiley, owner of Wiley's Amusements in Fenton, which sells and services arcade games.
"In 25 years of doing this, last year was my best year ever, and a big part of that was selling classic video games to people for their basements - both pinball machines and classic 'Pac Man,' 'Galaga'-type games," Wiley said.
"I hardly have to open the showroom. Things are already sold before they're finished (being refurbished).
Wiley, 41, is a former employee of East Lansing's legendary Pinball Pete's. As a child, he spent his lunch money on games at the old bowling alley in Fenton, which was just doors from where his business is now.
"I think it's mostly nostalgia," Wiley said of the current craze. "I think it's mainly (that) our age group that grew up with these games are in a position to be able to afford them."
It takes a lot of quarters


Pinball News on the Planned Croc Hunter Game

Posted by: James McGovern

When a famous and outgoing guy like "Croc Hunter" Steve Irwin passes, you know there must be a seemingly insurmountable list of loose ends to attend to as he and his efforts touched so many around the world. One such connection to Steve was the planned "Crocodile Hunter - Outback Adventure" pinball machine which was to be produced by the Pinball Factory under the recently aquired Bally name. Predictably, the unexpected loss of Steve Irwin has thrown the entire project into doubt with no official word as to whether or not it will proceed.According to Martin Ayub of the "First and Free" Pinball News, Pinball Factory owner Wayne Gillard has issued the statement, "We regret to inform the pinball community that Steve Irwin has died. Our Crocodile Hunter project is now on hold. We pass our thoughts onto Steve's family."

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