I get asked... Nick, were do you get your inspiration to keep talking retro? I can't pinpoint just one element. Friends, shows, and of course good ol' memories all give inspiration. But if I had to pick just one, a fun, retro inspired environment can really keep that fire burning. Some call it a "Man Cave" others say "Game Room", whatever you like to call it, its goal should promote awesome feelings that pull you back to those fun days of your youth! The problem for many however is finding the space, or a space your wife allows. Like many of you, I lacked the space of a basement or a dedicated area for those fun kid rekindling toys. So what can you do? As stated by the burning rage of that announcer after dying on Altered beast... "Never give up!" Yes where there is a will, there is a way. That "will" brought me to the corner of my single car garage, aka the Gar-cade.
When starting this, I questioned the viability of actually making this work. Could I create a space, that allowed me to play all of my favorite games, while bringing back nostalgic memories big and small, all in the corner of a single car garage port? Oh and did I mention, a car still needed to fit.
As I found out, you'll be surprised what you can do with such little space. With this post I will show what I did to convert a once drab pocket in the garage into the most fun spot in the house. I love challenges, so making a dedicated game area in approximately 20 sq. ft really got my mind going. Once the idea was planted, reality set in. The big word that seem to keep coming up was, "sacrifice". Yes, you cant have everything when working with limitations. So I really needed to narrow down what I wanted and what I could live without.
First I made a list of the things I simply had to have...
• A MultiCade
• Vintage DOS PC
• Classic Consoles (i.e. NES, Sega Genesis)
• DVD Player for classic toons/movies
I began to sketch out ideas of how I can use the space to accommodate everything I wanted. I did a lot of measuring to see what will work and what wouldn't. I went through several ideas before I finalized on a general plan. First off was the Arcade Cabinet. I already owned the horizontal cab and for awhile was happy with the games I could play. Now as many of you know, many arcade games played vertically (monitor rotated 90 degrees). My horizontal did play vertical games but it just wasn't right seeing those big black bars down the side. I was missing so much real-estate so I decided that a second vertical cabinet was a must, but could I fit everything? Again more measuring. So with the second cab in place my space was running thin.
I still had some game consoles, CRT TV, DVD player, an old PC tower with keyboard and mouse that still needed a home. I determined with the remaining space I needed a desk that was short enough to fit between the arcade cabinet and my mountain bike but long enough to comfortably support 2 CRT's. After searching for something suitable, I found the exact piece needed at none other than Ikea. The desk in question is called MICKE. This desk provided not only the correct dimensions but also offered usable features. The pull out drawer was perfect for storing the keyboard and peripherals. Also it was designed with a built-in rear cable organizer that I used to house the plugs/power strips to all the consoles. The plastic storage drawers were picked up at Walmart and conveniently store controllers/software, etc.
I found the perfect fit for the power distribution strip that powers the game consoles/TV/DVD Player. Two of them fit neatly (1 master and a slave) powering everything needed.
The Sony 13" CRT as well as the 15 inch VGA PC monitor fit perfectly side by side but I know space could still be squeezed out by raising up the monitors to accommodate other peripherals. I found a monitor riser for the VGA monitor that allowed the mouse to have a home with the need for additional desk space. The Labtec speakers sit behind the riser and as mentioned the keyboard is stored in the pull out drawer.
Of course to easily choose between consoles a AV switcher was in order. I picked this one up from Amazon. Works exactly as stated. I even have extra ports if I ever want to expand. Currently I have NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Atari 2600 and a Sony PS1. Those had the biggest impact on me as a kid. I wanted a Sega Master System but figured the Power-base converter for the Genesis will suffice, that and I ran out of room. The other inputs are used by the DVD player and I even got YouTube/Netflix on this analog CRT. Using a digital to analog converter hooked up to a Google Chromecast, I can catch up on all my YouTube programs.
Now for the consoles. I decided that hanging wall shelf would be the best option. These are adjustable and best of all cheap. Found at just about any major hardware depot, these versatile shelves gave me the flexibility to maximize my space!
So there you have it. All the games I could ever play, in a single car garage, while still being used to park the car! Add a few nostalgic touches like posters and game boxes to set the tone just right. I even got a smart LED bulb that has the ability to change colors.. set that arcade mood. I'm sure I'll find things to add or improve but all in all this is a great place to invite friends over and get some old school gaming in. It goes to show you with some thought creating a fun area for your nostalgic fix is possible! Now its your turn! Make your plans, perhaps you will be showing me what cool space you created! If you already have a cool game room, post a link! I want to see it!