Angie's List Report: Custom arcades bring the fun home

Video games have been part of home entertainment since the 1970s, but they’ve come a long way since that old Atari.

Rick Barretto, a computer and game programmer dating back to the ‘80s, started collecting full-size arcade games and eventually found they don’t last forever. In 1999, he created DreamAuthentics, a company built on an idea.

“I actually started putting PCs and software inside of game cabinets, and over time created about six different models that have now been sold all over the world,” Barretto says.

Barretto, who literally wrote the book on do-it-all systems, can download thousands of games to his. While vintage games were played on tube screens, now it’s HD flat screens and highly customizable cabinets.

“We’ve seen continual growth with the man cave, especially now as people are educated that they can get something like this that’s customized to their own homes with pictures of their family or friends on the arcade machine itself,” Barretto says.

Because of cabinet size, basements usually work best.

“If you’re thinking about an arcade machine, you have to keep in mind that they’re bulky as well as heavy, so you want to think about where you’re going to place them in your home so that it’s optimal,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks says.

Brandon Lafferman, who has an arcade at the athletic fieldhouse he runs, also has a Barretto custom machine at home.

“What’s really nice about it, like anyone that comes over, it’s got their favorite game, so there’s no one that can walk into my house and go, ‘Hey, I want to play this,’ and I don’t have it,” Lafferman says.

Barretto installs for some famous people, and in some interesting places.

“Hugh Heffner is a client, we’ve got one at the Playboy mansion, for example. We actually got to go out there, and it’s tough to go out and service that machine,” he says.

For a large custom cabinet with more than 200 games, Angie says you can expect to pay a little over $3,000.