An unassuming garage next door to Marseilles City Hall will soon be a place for families to step back into the 1980s and 1990s when arcades were regular sights.
Geoff, Jordan and their mother Barbara Harrison are opening the Gamer’s Garage Arcade at 225 Lincoln St. where people will be able to play old-school arcade games, such as Virtua Cop 2, Cruisin’ USA, Offroad Thunder, Street Fighter and more.
“We just thought there’s not a whole lot for kids to do in this town,” Geoff said. “When we were kids, we’d ride our bikes and live outside until it got too cold and then we’d go to the video store or the bowling alley and play the arcade games.”
Virtua Cop 2 is one of the games he and Jordan grew up playing, and it’s the first one Jordan bought that kicked off their collection. It’s a light gun-style shooter that has players pointing a colorful weapon at the screen while bad guys run around. In typical arcade fashion, the point is to get the highest score.
Geoff said landing Virtua Cop 2 led to them finding Offroad Thunder, and it lifted off from there. By the time the idea to open up an arcade was brought up, they already had eight or nine games.
“We kind of talked to each other and we’re like, well, we needed to justify having all these games,” Geoff said. “Having all these as a personal collection, at this point, is kind of ridiculous.”
Geoff and Jordan are both retro video game enthusiasts in the first place, and Barbara is a pinball hobbyist. The Harrisons had two pinball machines in their home growing up.
“I worked swing shift and we’d get off work at midnight and go out and play pinball before coming home and going to bed,” Barbara said.
While they don’t yet have the Sinbad machine Barbara said is her favorite, the Gamer’s Garage Arcade does have a WWF Royal Rumble machine and a Pin-Bot pinball machine.
“It takes you back to a time that just doesn’t exist in video games today,” Jordan said. “The games today are all online now. There’s nothing physical about it. Your friends aren’t right next to you. These are physical pieces you stand in front of and experience.”
Geoff said a lot of the games they find are through people trying to get rid of them on Facebook marketplace. The skee-ball machines, for example, came from a waterpark that was shut down.
Barbara said actually getting the skee-ball machines to Marseilles was a pain: They were located about an hour outside of Detroit and had to be stacked and pieced together like a Tetris game to fit inside their enclosed trailer. These machines weigh about 500 pounds each.
The Harrisons are amassing arcade machines and working on fixing the ones they have. Some of them are quite old and need a lot of work, one of which includes an old bowling arcade game that has a working track ball like the Silver Strike and Golden Tee arcade games often seen in bars.
There also will be other games like Mario Kart on big-screen televisions and Guitar Hero.
While an opening date has not yet been set, Geoff said they hope to open somewhere about mid-October, potentially for the Fall Festival on Oct. 15, which is across the street at Knudsen Park.