Retro Gaming RoundUp

SCOTT SCHREIBER
(Subarubrat)







Much like your other hosts on this show I came up during the classic golden age of arcades and gaming. The difference between me and them is that I wasn't any good at it.

I might get a few minutes of play from a quarter in Defender or clear the screen on PacMan before losing all three lives. And a few decades later I am not much better at most of them. So why did I spend so much time in arcades and why have an affinity for classic gaming? Because gameplay (which I really do enjoy despite ineptitude) is only one aspect of classic gaming. When I think of classic games I think of wood, metal, artwork, circuit boards, CRTs and all of it working in harmony to present a theme that the game software is but one integral part of. When you picture a game of that era in your head, do you see a cabinet or a screenshot?

I followed a path through consoles, early home PCs doing my time with the C64 and contemporary systems. I did Pong, Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, the NES and then the Genesis among others. After the Genesis I took a long break from consoles for the simple reason that nothing appealed to me. That changed when the Wii and the DS came along and Nintendo managed to recapture the magic of the NES.

There was the phone system too. I think we all tried the trick from Wargames of sticking the paperclip into the received and touching the phone, it didn't work for me either. A feature of the BBS systems back then was an area called text files, which was just that, text files. One day I started reading about all these different boxes, redbox, bluebox etc. As it turned out you could get a payphone coined up by generating tones that mimicked those the phone sent when coins were dropped. So I built my first redbox to do just that. It was fun to try out on the payphone in front of the school, but then I made my first bluebox and silverbox. These would mimic the tone used to identify long distance trunk lines and the operator dial tones. Suddenly I had a freedom and was no longer stuck in that small town. I could walk up to any phone and tickle the keys and end up anywhere I pleased. That helped lead to understanding cable TV systems and how to play with them. That all lead to a lifelong technical background that has made me a much better engineer and technician and gave me the gift to keep this era of history in good working order so that future generations can see what all the excitement was about.

Another passion of mine that I enjoy covering on the show is pinball. I didn't get pinball at first. I liked the mechanical aspect of it and wanted more than anything to get under that playfield glass, but I didn't get the game. I was even a bit angry to find a pin in an arcade because it took up space that two video games could be in and I saw it the same way as a ticket machine, just a waste of space. I had been collecting arcade games for some time when I played a few pins at auction and suddenly I got it. Pinball made total sense to me and I started looking closer at the artwork, how sometimes the game can tell you a whole story at a glance. Take Xenon for example, the playfield gives you a world and a story line not that different from the Matrix, its all there if you look. I bought my first pin and was hooked and in short order I became fascinated with the history, the people and the companies that brought them abouT.

The majority of my classic gaming today centers around my home collection of about 50 various coin-op games and have restored about twice as many including pinball, video games, EM games, slot machines, pachinko, and some unique games that defy categories. I have finally refinished the lower floor of my home in an arcade theme complete with black walls and ceiling, blacklight carpet, disco ball, and all manner of signs and graphics. Rather than have a home arcade, I finally have an arcade home. That sort of experience is not that different from running an arcade back in the day. There is regular maintenance, parts to be ordered and screens and playfields to be polished. When I am not wrapped up in any of this I spend the majority of my time building and flying experimental aircraft or thanking my wife profusely for allowing me such total immersion in my hobbies.

Retro Gaming RoundUp