NOTE: To see the final Gameroom Photos first - click the last, bottom entry on the left frame
What makes a man suddenly spend every waking moment pouring over plans to radically change his basement into a big kid’s fantasy?
I had long felt something was missing. Oh sure, I was living the way the other guys were – suburban home, 9-to-5 job, wife, kid, yard to putter around in – but it was all too perfect . . . too sterile. I had aged, and I was acting my age . . . doing a great job of keeping up with the Jones’. All my goals were “functional” – succeed and provide. As taught, my life revolved around goals that matched everyone else’s goals. We learn that - it is embedded into us by all our mentors. Create goals, and succeed !! And the measure of that success is identical in all adults. So I joined the group of serious, pontificating men, each exuding a great level of “maturity”, since after all, that’s what it is to be a real man.
The “Game Room” idea . . . my savior . . . gradually took hold, and it broke me out of that mold.
These pages will take you along, on a mesmerizing 6-month ride with me. It is chock-full of images taken by my trusty digital camera – a Nikon Coolpix 950. In putting together a Game Room, it turned into a series of fascinating twists and turns. So relax back and enjoy. I’ll be sure to include tons of pics, and the details of each step, should you ever embark on a similar journey. I’ll cover each component, displaying a picture and listing the details (vendor’s website, cost, problems encountered, etc.). Then at the end you will find a set of large images taken from various viewpoints of the two rooms.
I searched the Internet relentlessly, made scores of phone calls to salesmen, placed numerous bids on E-bay, measured, hammered, screwed, and glued. Each day I would come home to a pile of boxes on my front porch – a stunning array of fantasy items that my 12-year-old daughter was excitedly waiting to open in front of me.
The last 6 months has been the most riveting, exhilarating, spellbinding period I have ever experienced – so let’s get started!! Come along with me. If you don’t care about the details, just flip through the pics. Either way, it will give you some ideas to use should you ever plan a similar fantasy.
NOTE: please excuse the constant use of the word “I” in this book. Since it was for the most part a solo effort, there was no way to avoid repeating that word continuously.
As you build your room, you need to decide what to put into it. You also need to make sure these high-dollar items will fit through your doorways. This can be a major problem !! Most modern room doors are about 27”, or 28” if you remove the door. Game Rooms often have large items, and you must always, always consider this limitation when selecting what you will fill the room with.
For example, there is no way I could fit a modern soda machine through my own 27” door. There is also no way I could jam in a large snack machine. Even a jukebox will be a challenge, although I believe the manufacturers are aware of the Game Room market and have designed them so that you can disassemble them if need be. This is one consideration you don’t want to forget !!
Most Game Room enthusiasts feel that there are several items that define a Game Room. These included a Classic soda Machine, a Pool Table, one or more Pinball Machines (usually several), Darts, a Jukebox, and other assorted arcade games (Bowling, Shuffleboard, Skeeball, Video Games, etc. Unfortunately, almost all of these “barebones” items are very expensive. In addition, the décor required really adds up fast.
Of course, it seems elitist to say that “a Game Room ain’t a Game Room without this, that, and the other”. But the fact remains – most Game Rooms have these items. So be prepared to spend $20,000 to $40,000 to put together a Game Room with this basic variety, even if you exclude one or two of the items. For example, I excluded a Jukebox, I only have one Pinball machine, and still ended up spending about $25,000.
There are ways to rein in the expense a bit. Take a lot of time researching everything – use the web, that’s the only way. Compare prices, and take advantage of E-bay. Auction prices are almost always cheaper than buying something outright from a dealer – but not always. Use your imagination and learn to master painting, arts, and crafts to add some of your own décor. Just make sure it matches the Game Room themes, discussed later in detail.
I missed the days of being captivated by games. I remember spending the weekends at my friend Gossom’s house going through every game on his multitudes of shelves. As kids - we all had our own set of shelves, and we guarded them. Each kid had a different selection, which they proudly displayed. Monopoly, Tip-It, Tripoley, Mouse Trap, Crazy Clock, Paddle Pool, and the list goes on.
These are all vintage games, and some are only available by revisiting E-bay over and over until you see the game posted - and bidding as high as you can because you can’t afford to be out-bid.
Way back then, we had what we could get – and it all depended on Birthdays and Christmas. That was when we “stocked up”. My life was full of games, games, and more games, and I mastered them all. Later, as a teenager, I advanced to the bigger games such as Pinball and Foosball. A steel ball rolling around, caroming off bumpers and flippers (i.e. Pinball) – was a special magic. After that, in my early 20’s, I became fascinated with golf, and tennis as a player – and as a spectator I spent hours watching football and basketball. When I wasn’t playing a game – I’d be watching one.
Sadly, things began to change in my 30’s. My old buddies slowed down, got married, and lost touch. I noticed that men were viewed with the highest regard if they were serious, and “mature”. They no longer played games – they were into financial security, a home, 2 cars, and a yard with the best fertilizer one could buy. Fun was “out”. What a sad change. Even sadder - I went right along with it.
It wasn’t until my mid-forties, the classic mid-life crisis, that I was able to break out of this catatonic state. It was early 2002, and my brother called and asked us over to show us his newly finished basement. Since he had just completed it - it was basically bare at the time, although it did have a Pool Table. Being the ever-competitive Brother, coupled with the fact that I had wanted a pool table for years . . . I decided to purchase one. Just a pool table for my basement – that’s all (yeah right).
I already had a finished basement with modest furnishings, and a Ping-Pong table. My basement had 3 rooms . . . a main Rec Room, a bedroom, and a dusty, musty old furnace/storage room. Little did I know – that old furnace room was due for the mother of all face lifts !!!
Although I had nothing fancy in mind – I did go so far as to take a few basic measurements and decided to spruce up my furnace room. I would move the ping pong table there, and get a pool table for the spot vacated by the ping-pong table. Here’s the layout :
This was the beginning – I really had no idea. Fortunately, I had become an expert on the PC, and was very adept at using the web to research concepts. As I looked through the various websites for Pool table info – I would occasionally land on sites with Game Rooms. At the time, I thought, “wow that’s nice, it would be cool to have that”, and then I would click through to another website. What was happening, unknown to me, is that a hidden part of my mind was already making plans – the concept was taking hold ! ! I discovered that there really is a subconscious area of my brain, that thinks in the background without my awareness. The wheels were definitely turning, because later, when I made the conscious decision to go ahead full steam – there was an entire set of detailed plans already there - just waiting for me.
I still had no concept that I was going to create an elaborate Game Room. I thought I would finish with just a few small decorative items. However, somewhere in the back of my mind, the wheels were turning, and picking up speed. Ideas started to creep in, fueled by the hundreds of Pinball and Pool websites I had been pouring over.
I kept going back to these websites and would see their game rooms over and over, and eventually I realized that they carried some common themes. They were tailored after the 50’s, with bright solid colors, shiny plastic, checkerboard patterns, and all kinds of objects that you find out in public places but not in homes. Gas Pumps, Barber Poles, Traffic signs, etc.
Finally, my mind officially clicked into it all. I was going to build the mother of all Game Rooms !! 6 months and $25,000 later, I had that Game Room.
Although my plans were still small, I realized that my Game Room had now taken over two rooms of my house. Every time I mentioned “Game Room” to anyone, they didn’t know which of the two rooms I was referring to. I wanted to badly to be able to call both rooms the “Game Room” for simplicity, but it was not feasible. So I decided to leave the “Rec Room” name as-is, and renamed the Furnace Room to the “Game Room”.
That stopped the confusion – and also, from now on in these pages, I will refer to the Rec Room as the Rec Room, and the Furnace Room as The Game Room (to help facilitate your scintillating reading pleasure).