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Gaming goes Offworld in Detroit

An Offworld Arcade pop-up at Checker Bar

 
I grew up in arcades and have spent the majority of my life playing video games. In my early 20s I purchased a full-size Galaga game, one of the most popular games of the "Golden Age" of arcade video games, but it sat around in my garage for years collecting dust, and I eventually ended up selling it.
 
Once it was gone though, I started to really miss having it around, and I realized I'd made a bad call. I started repairing classic home video game consoles as a hobby around that time, and that gave me enough confidence to try to repair an arcade game. I found a broken Burgertime game on Craigslist, and after several months, I was able to get it working again.
 
I started buying more and more games and in my spare time I would work on fixing them up. Before I knew it, I had a garage full of games, but they weren't being played very much since I was always busy with restoration. That gave me the idea to open an arcade.
 
My career is in advertising, but I eventually made a second career from what began as hobby in my garage. I turned my personal collection of games into Offworld, a classic arcade that also moonlights as a gallery and community workspace for people who love electronic gaming. I also spend time in the community sharing my enthusiasm for gaming. On Jan. 21, I brought the past and the future of gaming together by demoing the classic N64 game Pokemon Snap in virtual reality on the Oculus Rift at the Michigan Science Center's monthly After Dark 21+ event.
 
Every 30 days or so, we host an authentic pop-up arcade called the Monthly Evening of Electronic Amusements at the Checker Bar in Cadillac Square. We also rent out the arcade on occasion and do our best to have a weekly "fix-it" night where other arcade enthusiasts bring projects to work on and help keep Offworld's games up and running.
 
Advertising and even video games may not seem like the domain of scientists, but with all the focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and professions today, I think it's important to point out that my work fits right into the STEM conversation. In order to keep these old video games running, you need to have a decent understanding of electronics as well as other skills like soldering, reading schematics, diagnosis, and carpentry.
 
I am still learning many of these skills. The realm of science is just right for the curious-minded of any age. I meet people all the time who don't see themselves as scientists. For me, the secret is to not get intimidated by something that you'd like to learn or accomplish that you don't fully understand yet. Find a place to start and get to work. You might solder through half your finger and/or get electrocuted along the way, but eventually you will get there. Learn from people who are good at or at least as equally enthusiastic about what you want to learn. And don't forget about the internet.
 
I hope to see you at our next official Evening of Electronic Amusements; we have some big things happening on the horizon with the project, so stay in touch with us via email, our website, or social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr).
 
Model D's coverage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in southeast Michigan is supported in part by the Michigan Science Center. Read other stories in our STEM Hub series here.
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