We all know that Detroit comes with a lot of history, but it’s not every day that history comes to Detroit. Launched with only six classic home video gaming consoles and a small garage space, Don Behm started Offworld Arcade exactly one year prior to this February. The arcade is now made up of a multitude of old school video gaming consoles, all restored by Behm in the comfort of his own home.
It started with a memory of a formerly owned game, Galaga. Behm purchased the game thinking it would be a cool thing to have in a bachelor pad. After holding onto it for ten years without opening it, he eventually talked himself into getting rid of it – only to find instant regret in his decision.
“I remember mentally kicking myself every time I opened the garage door, because I realized I’d made a bad call,” Behm commented. “Once it was gone, I started to really miss having it around.”
Thinking too often about the absence of Galaga, Behm got into home video game restoration and repair, eventually gaining the confidence to bring an arcade game back from the dead. Finding a cheap Burgertime game on Craigslist that didn’t work, Behm went to work for several months on the machine and eventually allowed Peter Pepper to build giant pixel burgers once again.
Most of the gaming consoles come from Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, gaming forums, auctions, friends and family of Behm, other acquaintances, and the list goes on. “I have a small pickup truck that fits one game perfectly in the back,” Behm says. “And I love roadtrips.”
Fast forwarding to present day, Offworld Arcade has come so far as to quadruple their game collection. Behm drove his first pickup truck (GG-01) to the ground hauling games, and eventually moved the business out of his Corktown garage. But with the help of a small team, a small business plan was put together and executed immediately, bringing Offworld to what it is today.
“I’ve met so many amazing folks who LOVE electronic gaming as much as I do,” Behm commented. “We had a bunch of scatterbrained ideas, but we started proving them right away.”
Looking onward in 2015, Offworld is happy to continue on with their monthly events located at the top of Checker Bar, for the time being. At each event, gamers can expect to have an authentic arcade experience that is as much about the gaming community as the games. All proceeds from attendee support are directly reinvested into growing the business.
“Detroit has a thriving, wildly diverse gaming community filled with some of the most generous people I have ever met,” Behm commented. “But don’t expect to see anyone get past he third level of Burgertime. I never have.”
Offworld Arcade’s next event will take place on February 28, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on the main floor of Checker Bar in Cadillac Square.