|The men behind the games. |
Kids waiting at the orthodontist play Galaga, guests at the Breakers run from digital ghosts, and Rick Ross is gaming at home, thanks to Robert Childs.
The owner of Fort Lauderdale's Arcade Game Sales, Childs holds the second highest score in Tempest, according to Twin Galaxies, in the world. Close friend Steve Kleisath, drummer of Further Seems Forever, is also a successful gamer. He has the skills to rank as the second highest scoring player of Ms. Pac Man in the world. In the world! We sat down with the pair to talk about Childs' famous clientele and their oddly unique Retro Arcade Night.
Childs started unjamming coins in arcades owned by his father when he was just in first grade. At his store, he customizes games for the rich and famous, and guys who own pizza joints. Childs also co-owns King of Kong Arcade in Orlando International Airport with Billy Mitchell, close friend and business partner, restauranteur and star of The King of Kong.
Kleisath said, "I was enamored with arcades in the eighties," but took a break from gaming in the nineties, what Childs calls "the Dark Ages." A time before the rise of the internet revived arcade culture. Though the drummer knows other musicians who like to play games, like his bandmates, he jokes, "they're not at elite world status."
Childs chimed in, "You're just a tough guy. You gotta be a little cocky when you play these games." To which Kleisath replied, "You've gotta have confidence or the game's going to beat you! Don't let the game push you around."
Arcade Game Sales is popular with rappers and sports stars. Childs estimated that about 90 percent of his clients are wealthy fans of arcade games. Rick Ross has even been in the store and purchased multiple systems. Childs said, "I've set up a few of his homes with arcades," though he was careful not to give details. Those in the rap game are hesitant to have their fun business aired publicly.
829 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL