For approximately every 2,000 Kickstarter campaigns soliciting donations for things like launching a business specializing in artisan doilies or gloves with fucking can koozies velcroed to them, one or two campaigns come along that demand your dollars by offering something actually worthwhile. Paul Hantschel’s “Moving My Video Arcade To Milwaukee” campaign is nestled firmly in the latter classification.
The owner, operator, and namesake of Racine-based Paul’s Video Arcade has seen the writing on the wall as of late. His mall arcade’s business has been dwindling in this age of online retail, despite gaming culture being stronger than ever. As Hantschel explains it, “…it has become necessary to relocate to Milwaukee, which has a higher volume of areas with good foot traffic and more dedicated clientele for arcade games in general.”
Hantschel is seeking $200,000 to cover moving expenses, remodeling expenses he anticipates for the new location, and the likely rent increase brought on by the Racine to Milwaukee relocation. He’s offering (primarily token- and plaque-oriented) rewards to backers. Unlike a speculative investment, the owner of the nine-year-old arcade already has a well-stocked arsenal of arcade games (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among them!), pinball machines, an air hockey machine, and a Dance Dance Revolution setup.
Admittedly, Hantschel’s funding goal is very ambitious. And with only $475 raised and 21 days left at the time of this writing, the dream becomes less likely to happen every day. Whether Paul’s Arcade meets its goal and comes to town or somebody else steps up, Milwaukee needs a true, dedicated arcade. Bounce Milwaukee is off to a solid start early on as an inflatable playland with an arcade element, but it’s almost exclusively made up of emulators. 42 Lounge is great as well, but as a full-time bar (and occasional comedy club) there’s only so much space for gaming…and it’s primarily console gaming, at that. And let’s be honest: Landmark Lanes’ arcade just isn’t what it used to be. The staggering growth of the Midwest Gaming Classic shows there’s an enthusiastic customer base in place.
So if you feel Milwaukee would benefit from a new arcade, consider tossing some quarters Paul’s way. Even if he can’t raise the remaining $199,525 in time to give his declining Racine arcade a 1UP in Milwaukee, a major dent in the goal could be the proof of profitability that another prospective arcade owner needs to hit the start button on opening a gamer’s oasis in town.