Arcadia: America's playable arcade museum

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MCLEAN, Ill. (WAND) - Some say no childhood is complete without at least one visit to an arcade. One man is determined to keep that experience around for kids, and kids at heart, for years to come.

"I want every building in this downtown to be filled with arcade games of some sort of theme,” says John Yates the owner and creator or Arcadia. “I want people when they think of arcades, I want the first thing in their mind to be McLean, Illinois.”

Arcadia is known as America’s playable arcade museum. The museum features games that were popular anywhere from the early 1970’s all the way to the 2000’s.

"I am a games collector,” added John. “I bought my first game in high school back in the late 80's and then as soon as I got to college I started hoarding games."

John owns over 1,500 games. What makes his collection so unique, is the variety and age of the games.

"Once a game stopped earning money it was completely worthless to them and they just wanted it out of their warehouse,” explained John.  “So I could call up people with in a 1,000 mile range from here, and I would offer to basically haul away the old games that weren't making money. I would get truckloads of games for free, or almost for free and that’s where I got the best stuff."

John used to be able to get the machines for free but that option disappeared with the internet and explosion of online markets like eBay. He makes sure all the games work properly. However, his degree in computer engineering helps him understand how the games work.

"Every game you fix you learn some trick, so the next time you see that symptom you're like oh yeah I remember that," added John.

Arcadia is now John's full time job, but it hasn't always been as popular as it is today.

"The fact that I survived through 7 years of it completely being a bomb, is incredible,” expressed John. “There were so many times I went home and I told my wife I’m closing that stupid arcade it's just not worth it and now it's starting work."

While living out his American dream is something he never thought would happen, John says the most rewarding experience is the visitor’s reactions.

"The most rewarding thing for me is seeing families bond you know,” added John. “I hope they leave this place closer as a family then when they came in, more connected.”

If you would like to learn more about Arcadia, you can visit their Facebook Page by clicking here.

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