Jose Rivera, owner of Jose’s Arcade, has been a video game enthusiast since the 80’s. His interest led him to building and customizing arcade game consoles in 2012. We met up with Jose at GameCoLab Demo Night where he showcased his latest creations. I spoke with Jose about his love for building video game consoles and his investment in his business.
Tell me about starting Jose’s Arcade.
I started making arcades in the summer of 2012. I had been considering building one [for years]. I really like to tinker and make things, I just never bothered to document or take pictures of anything because when I mentioned it to friends they were uninterested.
I have been playing games since the early 80’s and video games are what got me into electronics. Somebody gave me a broken Atari in 1985 that I fixed; fast forward a few years and I had a Bachelors in electronics by the time I was 18.
Is that when you started building video game consoles?
I found a company that would sell me a kit—an empty arcade shell that you put together and install your own computer and controls into it. The price was right, so I took the plunge. However, upon arrival, the builder forgot to router the grooves to install the T-molding (the color plastic strip that goes around the edges of the cabinet). After contacting the builder, he insisted on me shipping this big box back so he can fix that. I declined and instead asked him what tool and bit was needed to do the job, so I went ahead and bought it and did it myself. The experience was very gratifying and I had a lot of fun doing it. After I finished it, a friend put it [pictures of the arcade] on the Reddit gaming section-it [became] very popular with over 300,000 views. I never intended to make more, but people just went crazy when they came over to play mine and they just wanted to buy mine on the spot, so I had to make others.
How are you funding your business?
I am doing this out of my pocket; there is no funding whatsoever. When somebody needs me to build something, they buy me all the components, so I am just using my time and skills.
What’s in the future for Jose’s Arcade?
At the moment, I have been building arcades. Most are custom things I came up with or converting things into arcade, but there are a number of other things I like to build, some of my own, some by requests. I see myself in the future with a shop in my garage where I could make all sorts of things. Currently, I am looking into buying a CNC (computer numerical control) machine that will help me a lot with precision and speed.
GameCoLab Demo Night
At the GameCoLab Demo Night, PAC-MAN and Galaga made a debut via old school arcade consoles and an IKEA table thanks to Rivera (seen above). His also restored the Neo Geo console which was the biggest hit among the kids. Rivera told AZTB that he plans in the future to offer mentoring classes on how to build a console and eventually sell complete console kits to developers. “I get to teach them how to do it,” he said.
For more information on Jose’s Arcade, click here.