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Plugged In

California arcade game collection gathers dust

Plugged In

Maybe California could eliminate its financial problems one quarter at a time.

It turns out the state that made the nation's biggest push to regulate video game violence may also be the state with the biggest collection of classic arcade games.

For the past three years, the city of Glendale has played host to a wealth of quarter-gobbling machines such as Street Fighter, Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man. Thanks to government red tape, though, those games sit unused -- and the city is unable to do anything with them.

The old stand-up machines were obtained as part of a package deal when the state's Redevelopment Agency bought an old video arcade building. But in February 2012, that agency was dissolved. Now anything associated with it can't be sold (or even moved) until the state clears it for sale by finishing the paperwork. And there's no telling when that will be.

That's especially frustrating for Phillip Lanzafame, Glendale's director of economic development. While he notes the games have certainly lost financial value as they've sat in the warehouse, they could have been doing some good for the community and local charities.

“We have a lot of charitable organizations that could have used them as a fundraiser,” he said.

Lanzafame estimates the value of the machines at $40,000 today, down from about $100,000 back in the day. That could be optimistic, though. The games are working, but television footage of the cabinets shows they aren't in pristine condition, which collectors say lowers the value.

There are plenty of games to choose from, at least. The collection spans three storage units and even includes a foosball table. It's the sort of thing that brings back memories for children of the 80s and 90s.

“You walk up and down and look at the machines and go ‘Yeah, I remember that from college, from high school, when I was a kid,’” Lanzafame said. “You come in and it’s a little bit of nostalgia.”

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