20 inspirational games room ideas

Whether you’re a retro gamer, modern console and PC gamer or board gamer, you have to admit we would all love our own dedicated games room. Whether it’s all of your retro consoles complete with back catalogs of cartridges, the latest consoles connected up to the latest 4K TV, your beloved collection of arcade machines and pinball tables or even your boxes of board games. We’re looking to help you with some games room ideas to help design your own!

Here are some of the ways for gamers get their fix. Whether it’s a fully-fledged games room, or just a way of discreetly introducing your games tech into the family home.

Football themed man cave

Let’s kick off with a proper man cave. The place where real men hang out whilst drinking beer and arguing over which players aren’t earning their keep. A real striking theme here with plenty of red going on with the Liverpool themed pool table and darts mat. A TV in the corner to keep an eye on your team whilst playing some pinball, putting your money into the owner’s fruit machine or playing table football. There’s also a poker table for those late night sessions. Strictly no shoes allowed though and that also goes for the retriever.

mancave with pool and table football

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Abandoned Arcades – A glimpse to the past

Abandoned Arcades

In this post we take a look at some of the discoveries of abandoned arcades made around the world. It’s unfortunate but you have to love the eerie sadness of an arcade graveyard whether it’s an abandoned mall arcade, abandoned arcades at a theme park or just an abandoned arcade room. However, it’s not all bad!

Arcade machines left in existence

It’s hard to speculate on how many original arcade cabinets are still in existence. At one stage there would have been tens, if not hundreds of thousands of these things around the world. I mean, where I grew up my local town had 3 arcades ranging from 20 to 50 machines – excluding slot machines. Multiply this up for each town and that’s a lot of arcade machines.

So, where have they all gone? A quick browse through the likes of eBay, Craigslist and Gumtree brings up one or two here and there. Bearing in mind the number of years these go back when thinking of the golden era of the arcades, it’s hardly surprising considering they were cumbersome beasts mostly made out of chipboard. Who is going to want to hang onto these?

Spreepark – Berlin

Originally opening in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterworld, it was sold to a private investor in 1989 after reunification and renamed Spreepark, located next to the river Spree.

dirty outrun steering wheel

The park closed in 2002 after some shady movement of 6 of the main rides to Peru… along with the owner and some family and co-workers. The attempt to run ‘Lunapark’ in Lima failed and the owner was jailed for drug smuggling.

old outrun arcade machine with screen missing

discarded old arcade machinesSource:
Google images

Abandoned School Cottage

Not a lot of information on this one. The urban explorer Abandoned Steve lists it as ‘Campbell cottage’ which belonged to an abandoned school which closed its doors in 2001. The school started up in the early 1900s as an all-girls school for juvenile delinquents, later becoming a mixed school in the 70s, but closed in 2001 due to financial issues. Here Steve discovered a small abandoned video arcade.

With a scattering of pool balls on the floor, there was a Sega ESWAT and a Leland All American Football…

eswat and all american football vandalised arcade machines

… and a Data East Robocop , Nichibutsu UFO Dangar and Midway’s Arch Rivals. All of which have water damage and have slowly rotted away at the base. They have also been vandalised by whoever got into the cottage before. Such a shame to see them in this state when there would have been many good homes for these to go to.

seriously damaged robocop, dangar and arch rivals arcade machines

Plus a sorry looking Atari Tetris which looks like it was raided for any remaining quarters.

tetris arcade machine discarded and vandalised

It wouldn’t be a school property without table football. Even the legs on this are starting to give up.

fusbol table with rotten legs

Abandoned Steve

Abandoned Arcade Hotel – Japan

Nara Dreamland is an abandoned amusement park which was inspired by Disneyland. Opening in 1961, it closed its doors in 2006. Urban explorer site Abandoned Kansai has been around the park numerous times since closure, but the following photos are from 2014 and the place is in a pretty poor state. Another one of many abandoned arcades fallen foul to vandalism.

The Disneyland style entrance of Nara Dreamland with promises of excitement and adventure. An abandoned castle arcade perhaps…

nara dreamland theme park disney style castle

A sorry looking cocktail table.

forgotten arcade cocktail cabinet

A Super Monaco GP sit-down cabinet. Who knows how this room got into such a state!

super monaco gp arcade machine buried

Taito Space Invaders cabinet in pretty good condition… from this angle.

discarded space invaders cabinet

A couple of more modern Sega Astro City cabinets.

discarded astro city cabinets

You can just about hear the echos of the fun had of these Konami DDR machines.

old ddr machines

Abandoned Kansai

Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me

Well, you know it isn’t going to be a happy ending when you’re quoting The Smiths as the title for a photo set. This series is all about an abandoned Star Wars cabinet, a holy grails for many arcade collectors. He has many pictures of arcades that have been left to rot, but this one conjures up the emotions.

From what I can gather, this discovery was made in a small town in Arizona. Thomas Schultz stumbled across a garage containing a few old arcade cabinets. Symbols of a long-gone era when arcades were the gathering point of all the youngsters in the area.

A pair of abandoned arcade machines. Thankfully the Star Wars cabinet wasn’t alone for all those years, with the faithful Bandido cab to keep it company.

black and white photo of abandoned star wars and bandido arcade cabinets

There are plenty of enthusiasts that would give their right arm for a genuine Star Wars yoke – though that wouldn’t help when it comes to getting that proton torpedo down the exhaust port.

dusty yoke on an abandoned star wars arcade cabinet

The side art looks to be in good shape considering the heat it has had to endure. Though it didn’t stop the T-moulding from trying to jump ship.

view of side art on an abandoned star wars arcade cabinet

The whole machine looks to be in relatively good shape. Sure, someone has had the star wars marquee away, as well as any remaining quarters. The base looks to have some water damage too which is a real problem when you want to restore an arcade machine.

dusty abandoned star wars cabinet

Thomas Schultz

Abandoned Arcade UK – Operation Lancaster

It’s not all bad, though a rarity these days to find a cache of abandoned arcade machines in salvageable condition. But over here in the UK, it’s almost unheard of. In 2009 a member of the UKVac.com forums interest was piqued by the discovery of some pictures taken by urban explorers who had found their way into the abandoned Duke Of Lancaster cruise ship in North Wales where it had been resting since 1979. 30 YEARS!!!!

duke of lancaster cruise ship

There were huge plans to convert this ship into the Fun Ship, which initially opened as just an arcade with plans for more such as hotel conversion and restaurant which never materialised. It was unfortunately short-lived and closed soon after.

arcade machines and fruit machines aboard the duke of lancaster cruise ship

UKVac member, Oliver Moazzezi managed to track down the owner of the vessel after some detective work and was given 10 days to remove the machines as there was some impending maintenance work. Oh, and he was told he needed a fill size crane!

asteroids, galaxy wars and space invaders part 2 arcade cabinets

So in 2012 after a mammoth effort, around 15 collectors and enthusiasts gathered in a small town in NW Wales with a crane and vans to save the abandoned arcades which had lied dormant in The Duke Of Lancaster for so many years. They saved around 50 machines.

bally nitro ground shake pinball machine inside cruise ship

Look at the condition of these abandoned arcades and pinball machines!

corridor of arcade and pinball machines on cruise ship

This was a serious operation.

crane lifting arcade machines off cruise ship

A fine array or original arcade machines layed out in front of the old Duke Of Lancaster cruise ship.

man standing with arcade machines next to cruise ship

row of arcade machines and crane

Wales Online

Trafford Park arcade machines stash

This one is another UK find and also another (mostly) happy ending. From what information I can find, this all started with a UK arcade collector purchasing a couple of arcade machines on ebay. During the transaction, as you would expect from an enthusiast, they asked if there were more available. This led him to the owner of a stash of machines located in Manchester which he had locked up in storage for which the rent was way overdue. He had made numerous attempts to reach the owner who had emigrated, with no luck. This cache of abandoned arcade machines owed the guy and he was starting to recoup his losses. Negotiations took place, a price to clear the whole lot was settled and a date was set to clear the whole lot… whatever that was!

The treasures were spread over a few storage locations and the first was a little upsetting. The usual water damage due to the unit not being particularly weatherproof, had got the better of some of the arcade machines from the ground up. With the only way to initially inspect the find, the guy climbs in for a closer look.

man climbing through storage unit full of arcade machines

Just look at all those titles! Road Blasters, Tapper, Indiana Jones, PAPERBOY!!!!  Still, nothing was lost. Whatever couldn’t be restored out of these would have been stripped for spare parts to help keep other arcade machines alive and kicking.

selection of abandoned arcade games in storage

So there were a few more rooms to explore and extract, which must have been a hefty task. After all, arcade machines are neither light nor particularly maneuverable! Here’s a bunch of arcade pictures showing some of the finds in a better condition.

collection of arcade machines in a warehouse - arabian, astron belt, mach 3

Some really great condition original arcade cabinets here. A lot of them appear to be film-wrapped making this an exceptional find. Though this would only protect the sides and not the bases of abandoned arcade machines as if there’s water around, it will always find a way in.

arcade machines in a warehouse find

Indiana Jones, Dodgem and another holy grail for a lot of people – Paperboy! Definitely a couple from my childhood in there.

indiana jone, dodgem and paperboy arcade cabinets

Not all abandoned arcade cabinets end up going to the grave. Some of these are in great condition.

collection of arcade machines in a warehouse

It’s no surprise that the condition of some of these abandoned arcade machines is so good. There was clearly an intention for the previous owner. Lunar Lander, Fast Freddie, Video Pinball…

video pinball, fast freddie and lunar lander arcade machines

Just look at the condition of the Asteroids arcade machine? APB absorbed a lot of my pocket money as a kid.

asteroids and apb arcade cabinets

I’ve not heard of Dominos, but I love the design and colours of this arcade cabinet with simple sweeping lines.

dusty dominos arcade machine

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an original Tapper arcade machine, only conversions. Looks like it was found in amazing condition. Extremely lucky if it’s the one in the arcade machine stash photo at the start of the Trafford Park raid.

tapper arcade cabinet in warehouse raid

Saving the best until last, I imagine there were a few takers for this one – Star Wars sit down arcade machine. Again, this looks to be in incredible condition.

two guys moving a star wars sit down arcade machine


Other artefacts of the golden era of arcade gaming

To finish off here’s a few more cool photos I found whilst looking into abandoned arcades. It’s sad, but we’ve all gotta go some time.

A row Centipede arcade cabinets which look like they have been through numerous wet/dry cycles.

damaged centipede arcade cabinets

A Chase HQ cabinet slumped from a rotten base.

slumped chase hq arcade cabinet

Fire-damaged cocktail cabinets.

cocktail arcade cabinets with fire damage

A lonely Williams Make Trax arcade cabinet.

abandoned make trax arcade machine

An overturned Millipede cabinet and Mr Do covered in graffiti.

neglected mr do and millipede arcade cabinets

The remains of a Taito arcade cabinet. The shape of this was the inspiration for our Retrograde machine.

taito arcade cabinet shell

We hope you found this post on abandoned arcades interesting. If you want to get in touch, you can reach us on the contact page or via the social media links at the bottom.

This page was inspired by and recreated with permission from TheArcadeBlogger.

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Fallout 4 bar top arcade

Fallout 4 bar top arcade

As well as retro gaming, I need a taste of the modern and currently have a mild addiction to Fallout 4 (in which I also usually have an addiction to BuffJet). So when this Fallout 4 bar top arcade machine appeared in my Bethesda feed this morning, I had to share!

Bar tops are a great way to scratch your retro-gaming itch whilst appeasing the household. Small, light and therefore portable, meaning you can keep it hidden away in a cupboard. Covered with some really nice Fallout artwork this baby includes the logo and vault boy. Plus Vault-Tec colour-matching joystick and buttons… though the speakers bother me a little!

I can’t find too much info on this, but it apparently has a Raspberry Pi and XBox 360 inside. Sweet!


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Polycade – Retro arcade of the future

If you’ve not heard of the Polycade, it’s the wall-mount arcade machine that in December ’15 easily exceeded its $20,000 Kickstarter goal. It is the creation of brothers Tyler Bushnell, Dylan Bushnell (sons of Nolan) and Charles Carden.

polycade wall mount arcade machine

Polycade wall-mounted arcade machine on Kickstarter

From their Kickstarter page… it’s a CNC-cut, plywood shell which is then spray-painted (twice) with gloss paint in a choice of finishes. Or if you chose it, is instead vinyl wrapped with printed vinyl. Designed for those who want something to fit in with a more minimal Panton-esque apartment.

polycade colour finishes

There are a few choices for the control panel with either Happ, Sanwa or Ultimarc sticks. Plus there’s an option to have a 4-way stick or trackball in the centre of the panel. Marble Madness anyone? It is also supposedly removable for any future requirement to swap it out. polycade street fighter 2 girl

The Polycade runs on a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie and is brought to life via a 28″ LED TV. These are due to be rolled out in March, so we look forward to seeing the production item!

Polycade update:

One of the perks on the Kickstarter was to ship out a bunch of signed Atari cartridges by Nolan himself, as well as a live broadcast. Looking at the blog, this has taken place and it’s funny to read some of the comments!

See more on Kickstarter.

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The classic arcade gets a high-end makeover

Over the Christmas break, I took the time to have a chat with one of the guys working over at The Wall Street Journal in the US. It was about a feature looking into arcade gaming at home and how things have evolved that you don’t have to have a 40-year old machine in your lounge to be enjoying the old arcade classics.

Wall street journal arcade article

Wall Street Journal final cut

We spoke for quite a while (long enough that I had to pause The Great Escape on TV) about how things came about and what led us to be doing what we are. How in the 80’s I used to cycle about 5 miles to the nearest arcade with my friends, burn out all our pocket money on Gauntlet, Double Dragon and Outrun, then cycle home again. Ah, those halcyon days of school holidays and my BMX. However, none of that made it into the article as Tyler Bushnell took the lion’s share of the page (hey, my dad worked in banking!) But we got our Nucleus arcade table into print as well as online with a couple of other great looking home arcade systems!

See it here on the WSJ online…

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Revival 2014 run-down

It’s been a week since we got back from Revival and what a great show it was too! Craig, Chris and the Revival team did an amazing job again. Plenty of consoles, computers, arcade cabinets, light gun machines, driving games, pinball machines, traders, talks, costumes, chip-tunes, special guests, competitions…

surface tension was there with our stand again this year in the chill-out zone. With us we had our Dual, Arcane and forthcoming upright, Retrograde. Plenty of couches to crash out on too. We had our Rubik’s Cube seat on one side of the Dual, but also built some quirky seating for the other side. A 555 timer seat modeled on the 8-pin through-hole IC, which got plenty of attention! If you’re interested, you can see how it was made here.

surface tension stand

We had a good buzz around the stand all weekend with all ages.

555 seat

The 555 seat with the Dual arcade table.

Super Hexagon Arcade Machine

Super Hexagon arcade machine

Super Hexagon worked a treat on the upright. Though the surface tension team were battling it out between us for the highest score, only to be beaten by a 12 year old (not pictured). Meh.

Super Hexagon Arcade Machine

Our feeble attempts before being out-done 🙁

Goldeneye 4 player

If you didn’t get hooked on this 20 years ago, what were you hooked on?!

retro computers and consoles.

Loads of consoles and home computers to bring back the memories.

retro systems for sale

Plenty of systems to buy as well as play.

Pinball machines

pinball machines

A plethora of pinball machines, but never a spare one!

Traverse USA arcade cabinet

Crazy Balloon arcade cabinet

Driving arcade machines

Standup arcade machines in a row

Stand up arcade machines

There weren’t quite as many stand-ups as last year, but more than enough to keep you occupied. Plus with all of the pins, you weren’t left twiddling your thumbs.

John Romero playing multiplayer Doom

John Romero was there for a Q&A session, and to kick your ass at Doom.

Revival Survival Cabinet

Craig’s Revival Survival cabinet made its debut…

surface tension in Revival Survival

…which surface tension feature in as we helped Kickstart the project!

SIDMAN at Revival

Chip-tunes supplied by SIDMAN.

That’s about it. We look forward to next year but aren’t quite ready to go at it again just yet! It was a long and tiring weekend, plus a busy run up to it.

Asteroids volcano switch

Defender Control Panel

1, 2, 5 DM coin slot


One Player Select button

Williams coin mech

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retrograde arcade cabinet from surface tension

You will probably have seen our prototype upright machine already if you follow our facebook page, so I’m finally writing a blog post for it. Retrograde was produced earlier in the year and first exposed at the Revival retro gaming event where it it was extremely well received and got a good play-test! It’s surface tension‘s own spin on the classic upright arcade system.

We wanted to make something that stood out a little for the first one, so opted for ebony macassar veneer, which has a wonderful contrasting finish. The centre black sections are finished in gloss black following on the trend from our arcade tables. On to the pictures and specs…

upright arcade cabinet view from right

Ebony macassar veneer sides, black hi-gloss panels and 24″ LCD.

upright arcade cabinet control panel
Ultimarc Ultrastik 360 joysticks, Happ pushbuttons and 2 1/4″ trackball.

arcade cabinet control panel function buttons

Powder coated aluminium control panel with screen print.

arcade cabinet inset tweeter

Component tweeters aimed at head height.

arcade cabinet speaker cover

Discreet woofers close to the player.

arcade control panel screen print

Smoked, toughened glass.

upright arcade machine pc storage

Enclosure for housing the Shuttle PC and peripherals, using Soss invisible hinges.

surface tension arcade marquee

Illuminated marquee with our surface tension branding, but will ultimately be customisable.

Like our arcade tables, we also fitted this out with a Shuttle PC, running Windows 7. All arcade games launched using the GameEx interface. We also had the Steam platform running at the show as there’s some excellent cab-friendly games available.

We’re looking to launch this product in a range of finishes early Q1 2014.

Get in contact if you would like to find out more on this or any of our other products.


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iCade 8-Bitty Retro NES controller

We featured the iCade gaming cabinet for your iPad back in May last year, we loved it and now ThinkGeek have revealed the 8-Bitty controller which can be used for an iPad or iPhone and I love this even more.

It’s a much simpler task to identify the differences between the 8-Bitty and a NES controller than it is to list their similarities. There are two shoulder buttons and an additional two face buttons (for a total of four) not present on the NES controller – necessary additions given the sophistication of contemporary games. And the controller is more colorful than Nintendo’s gray, red and black original, with a front face of primary colors, and edged in a wood-styled veneer.

However, a closer inspection of the product photography betrays the incredible attention to detail and respect shown to the original NES control pad. The 8-Bitty recreates its inspiration down to an insane level of detail. There are the small, rounded oblong rubber buttons recessed into the face in the precise location of the NES controller’s start and select buttons. There are the chubby arrows on each of the D-pad’s four directional buttons. There’s even the tiny cuboid of missing plastic on the controller’s upper edge in line with the cable of the original controller. Hopefully the 8-Bitty will feel as authentic as it looks. Correctly weighted buttons and pad are a must.

No release date has yet been announced but ThinkGeek do have it listed on their site for $24.99 and if you’re interested they will email you once it’s available.

via: Bit Rebels


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EyeAsteroids – Asteroids controlled by the eye

I was browsing through The Sunday Times tech supplement yesterday and came across this eye-controlled asteroids arcade cabinet by a company called Tobii.


The potential in this kind of technology is amazing and obviously extends way further than gaming. I saw something similar at the Eurogamer Expo last year at Earls Court running Trackmania Nations.


“Using your eyes as a game controller is an almost magical experience. It’s as if the game can read your mind, creating the sensation of having supernatural powers.

Using your eyes to direct attention is fundamental in human interaction. Using your eyes to interact with games, on the other hand, is completely new. With gaze interaction, the game understands your gaze the same way people around you do, taking immersion and game intensity to a new level.”


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Modern 8-bit Movie Game Posters

This is a really cool spin on movie poster art by Penney Design. It’s kind of cool to see how these movie concepts are just reduced to a few simple pixels on an Atari old video game box, complete with the scribbles and ludicrous price tags retro gamers frequently encounter in used game stores.


Other titles include such classics as, Snakes On A Plane, Prison Break and my favourite, Inception.

via: Trendhunter

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Surface TensionModern 8-bit Movie Game Posters
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