“Two hundred! Do I hear a two fif- yes, two fifty!”
David Hohenstein, auctioneer with the American Amusement Auctions (AAA), quickly called out bids, his words tripping over themselves.
The AAA sold dozens of arcade machines Saturday at the Premier Event Center in Lewisville. AAA has visited Lewisville nearly 12 times over the past few years, each time drawing out the friendly arcade gaming community.
“These games bring smiles to people’s faces,” Hohenstein said. “Everybody comes out. It’s great meeting people.”
Hohenstein and his company travels the country buying and selling arcade games. His customers and suppliers are homebuyers, business owners and distributors alike. He explained nostalgia plays a large role in this industry.
“We sell people back a part of their childhood,” Hohenstein said. “Everybody wants to relive their childhood, especially the older they get. We usually start every auction off with Pac-Man.”
Estil Vance, a physician by trade, has his own collection of 110 games at his home in Lewisville. His gameroom focuses mainly on machines from the 1980’s.
“I’ve just always loved them,” Vance said. “It’s just how I grew up. That’s how I would spend a lot of my time in high school and college. It’s always something I look forward to.”
Both Hohenstein and Vance emphasized how one thing that makes this trade unique to Lewisville and the greater DFW area is the hospitable, welcoming community.
“People want it to continue,” said Amber Hohenstien, office manager of AAA. “Customers will work together to keep it going because they enjoy the camaraderie.”
“It’s a pretty good community in terms of sharing and resources,” Vance said. “Mostly everybody is really nice and very excited about other people who are interested in it. Even the commercial buyers are pretty likeable guys.”
Hohenstein said there’s recently been a resurgence of these classic arcade games, especially those from the 1980’s.
“Right now, it’s more popular than ever,” Hohenstein said. “The younger generation has never [seen] stuff like this. They’ve never experienced it.”
One example Hohenstein gave of the growing re-popularity with the games are bar arcade, commonly referred to as barcades, businesses. Starting in the early 2000s, dozens of barcades have now opened all across the nation. FreePlay, an barcade centric to DFW, first opened in Richardson almost three years ago. Its most recent location opened in Denton this past summer.
Josh Rylander, head technician with FreePlay, attended the auction Saturday to collect machines for the business. He agreed there’s been a comeback with these classic arcade games lately.
“A lot of people who grew up playing these games now have kids and want to show it off to them,” Rylander said. “Nostalgia is certainly a factor.”
Tim Weis, facility manager at Premier Event Center, has hosted these auctions over the past few years. Being familiar with the scene, he said DFW has become an area that’s adapted to the growing interest in the hobby.
“The whole area is a hotbed for just not PlayStations, but old arcade games also,” said Weis. “From old school to current games being played, there’s a huge base for this.”
In Frisco, the National Videogame Museum opened in 2016, showcasing the history of consoles and dedicating a room to 1980’s arcade games.
Saturday’s auction drew a crowd of about 100 people. While some attendees were from Lewisville and DFW, others came from Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Missouri and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“Everybody has interest or fascination with something that’s different.” Hohenstein said. “Anything different always peaks people’s curiosity.”
AAA will host another event at the same location on Dec. 8 later this year.