Greetings! My name is Whitney Roberts, and I’m a Louisville, KY-based collector. I’m relatively new to the arcade collecting/restoring scene, but have been an avid fan since my childhood.
I’ve got fond memories of going to my local arcade and playing many of the games that I now collect (and still play). For me, it was the “Galaxy of Games” in Frankfort, KY – a great place and it was the quintessential version of what we all remember an arcade to be – bowling-alley long with rows of games on each wall, poorly lit, blacklight carpet, 80′s music, token machines, blacked-out windows, etc.
I spent many a birthday and weekend grocery trips at that arcade hammering on all of the games there. In fact, I would favor going to the arcade in lieu of birthday parties and presents, because I was so fascinated with the games. For me, it was the “total” cabinet package: the artwork, the lights, the sounds and the nuances of gameplay on each title that instantly made me a fan of what this hobby is all about. I found myself drawn into their world and I think this is one of the vehicles which spawned my interest in my chosen career of computing.
Fast forward to today, and I’m sure many like-minded individuals have tried the console-ports of the classics as well as possibly trying MAME. I’m not a (modern) console fan… as today’s games are just too “busy” for me, and I feel have traded much of the charm and personality of what makes games such as Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-man, Centipede, Defender, etc. appealing for what many today consider to be lifelike graphics and sounds with overly-complex gameplay. As much as I respect what the modern consoles aim for and appreciate what the mamedevs have produced, I find that – for me – there is no substitute for the original game playing on original hardware in the original cabinet.
I’m all about the arcade experience, and it takes the real deal to make the experience real.
So began my quest to find the games of my youth and restore them to their former glory and then play the living daylights out of ‘em. I’m sure many of you wonder what would drive a person to seek out and obtain (sometimes at high expense) these behemoth games and bring them home and then labor on bringing them back-to-life. For me, it’s the thrill of the chase of the elusive games, and then the satisfaction of combining multiple disciplines (woodworking, electronics, painting, etc.) into a single result that wows everyone when they see it.
Why a blog?
Good question. Over the years, I’ve been involved in quite a few hobbies – many of which have faded out and some of which I’m still involved in, but none of which I’ve got a historical record of my involvement, acquired knowledge and accomplishments. With that, I felt that starting a blog on this endeavor would be a great way to help me to keep my interest level high over the years and would also help others learn from my involvement (and mistakes) as well as hopefully spur further interest into what is, admittedly, a small (but growing) community. It’s also a way to give back to others, and I feel that to be just as important – if not more – than any other reason.
I also wanted to push myself to learn new things. I’m not a web designer by trade (and it probably shows) so putting up this site, and doing it all myself – end-to-end – has been a tremendous learning experience that has forced me to grow in several areas unrelated to what I do as my vocation. All I can say is that I have a newfound respect for Web & Graphic designers – you guys are (severely) underpaid. I started with endeavor in 2009 and quickly found out that putting a site on the Internet and having a good site on the Internet are two completely different things. I spent the remainder of 2009 and much of 2010 getting the site structure ironed out and themed appropriately. The site content is still a work in progress, as there are several sections that aren’t fully-fleshed out yet. but things are coming along.
So with that, I’ll lay out my vision for what I want this website to represent:
1. To record, organize and share all of the information I come across while working in the classic (to me the 1979-1985 era) arcade collection and restoration hobby. I’ll focus on restoration logs, the ups/downs of repairing my games, the never-ending hunt for new cabinets/projects, reproduction/NOS artwork & parts and any side-bar topics that fall into this category.
Another aspect of this hobby that sometimes flies too far under the radar is the game room. Since there currently is a severe lack of venues to go and enjoy these games out in public, many people turn to re-creating the arcade in their home. I’m one of those people and I find the game room aspect of this hobby to be (almost) as rewarding as the games themselves. I’ll devote a portion of the site content to such as I feel it really rounds out the overall enjoyment of the pursuit, and gives everyone else a good venue to enjoy the games as well.
2. To share playing experiences, tips, hints, insights, ramblings, product reviews for hobby-related items that I purchase to assist in the restoration of or enhancement of the games in my collection and anything else arcade-related that doesn’t fit into #1.
3. To record and share insights/experiences about WordPress, themes, graphics and related computing topics as I come across them and find them of value (in relation to a WordPress site). I’m sure there are a lot of fledgling bloggers out there that can benefit from more information being spread about this fantastic platform and supporting community.
4. To research and document as much arcade history as possible. This one, admittedly, will be hard to accomplish. However, it’s one that I’m dedicated to doing, as there are massive amounts of historical and societal significance in these games, and they document a cross-section of Americana that many generations in the future would never know about were it not recorded around the Internet. I want to do my part in that regard and give something back.
5. To provide for a nice and inviting site on the web where like-minded collectors (avid and considering) and other interested parties can discuss the topics, suggest new ones, and participate freely.
I’ll definitely want to grow the site to include other topics as time goes by, but this is a good set of goals, and I’ll be very pleased to see each of the 5 tenets grow and I’ll then know I’m well on my way to building a sustainable and interesting site that will be of value to others.
What’s behind the name?
I get asked that quite a bit. Honestly, it’s not overly complex. First off, the domain name rhymes and rolls off the tongue pretty well (and was available for purchase); Second, it’s pretty easy to remember; Third, it provides a tongue-in-cheek aspect of this hobby… everything is old and (many times) broken and needs fixing… isn’t that many things in life? If only other things in life ran on tokens, then I’d be set; Fourth, finding good arcade-related domain names is hard – really hard.
Seriously though, to have a good ‘hook’ you need a good name and something that is short enough to have flow to it and still have context. Hence Brokentoken!
Nothing exists without influence, help and support from others.
I want to give some major props to Jeff Rothe over at www.rotheblog.com – his site is a definite inspiration for what I’m wanting to do here at Brokentoken and a lot of the information he’s posted about WordPress and graphics has either directly or indirectly helped me produce what you see here.
I also want to thank the WordPress community. This open-source platform has enabled me – along with millions of others – to have a voice on the Internet whereas such a voice might not have existed otherwise. I think software, when used in this fashion, can make the world a much better place and help everyone share ideas and grow. My hats off to all of the Automattic crew and the devs across the world.
If you’ve read this far, then I really appreciate it. Please take a second and drop me a line as I’d love to hear from you and to learn more about what fuels your passion in this hobby!