AN ARCADE game enthusiast and YouTuber has fulfilled his dream of opening an authentic, hands-on arcade museum in Stroud.
Set up by Alex Crowley in a beautiful Grade II-listed mill, Arcade Archive is a curated exhibition of hands-on arcade cabinets from the Golden Age of coin-op gaming.
From early electromechanical machines of the late 60s like the Wild West cowboy-themed Gun Fight and the genre-forming, coin-munching 70s video game titans Pong and Space Invaders, the museum touches on the many impressive advancements in arcade gaming during its most formative period.
Alex started his YouTube channel in 2013 and has been passionate about collecting arcade cabinets since long before then.
Last year, he answered a call by fellow YouTuber Neil Thomas of The Cave for people interested in renting out unused space in the mill.
Neil set up his own retro computing museum on the top floor of the mill in 2020 and since then has been looking for others to help him fulfil his vision of being the best one-stop retro computing destination in the UK, if not the world.
In August, they began preparing the space and filling it with machines from the heyday of the arcades.
Soon, the origins of arcade gaming history lined the walls – games like Donkey Kong, Q*bert, Bubble Bobble, Tempest, Gauntlet II and Star Wars.
Before long, the space was home to over 40 cabinets, and more are on the way.
“Part of the joy of building the museum has been acquiring, restoring and preserving long abandoned and mistreated cabinets lurking in garages, warehouses and basements across the country, the mission being to share them once more with the world,” said Alex.
With the assistance of Richard Horne – commercial director at Heber, a leading designer of electronics and long-time residents at the mill – the machines have been carefully brought back to life: failing joints have been resoldered, CRT displays have been serviced, cabinets have been lovingly repaired and artwork has been carefully restored.
Together, Alex, Neil and Richard have formed the Retro Collective, a community passionate about preserving and sharing electronics, gaming and entertainment history with a hands-on approach and a goal to unite vintage technology enthusiasts.
Some of the machines on display have unique stories to tell and are unlikely to be seen anywhere else in the world.
Despite the rare and unusual heritage of many of these video games, Alex is determined to share them with visitors – in Alex’s words, “these games were all meant to be played”.
Asked about the future of the arcade, Alex responded: “I would like to see the arcade museum grow and bring together communities and people of all ages and give them a memorable experience where they can learn about the history of video games and have fun at the same time.”
Arcade Archive is now open to the public for bookings: https://rmcretro.store/visit/