Many of the students and faculty in Algonquin College are well aware of the fact that there are arcade machines located in a hallway in B-building.
Yet not many of them have been seen playing on those machines. People pass by the machines all the time but there is rarely anyone playing on them. For the most part, the machines stand alone in the hallway as if they never exist — and gathering dust.
As these antique machines are struggling to survive, Stafford Rollocks, Students’ Association controller, told the Times that there are still a small number of students who would like to keep the machines on campus.
Still, the weak demand does not change the reality that the arcade games will be removed from that area as of April 30, 2019, according to Rollocks.
He explained that the arcade machines are overseen by SA in part, but they are owned and maintained by contractors outside the campus. While the contractors install, maintain and bring in new games, they share the profit earned from those machines with SA.
Back when arcades were still popular, the arcade business was relatively lucrative since there was huge demand for it. However, the profit that comes from the machines, over the year, has generally shrunk as arcades have become less popular.
They have largely replaced by video games on computers and cell phones.
“At one time, in terms of revenue,” said Rollocks, “they used to generate $25,000 a year for the SA, and now they’re bringing in probably less than $900.”
As the arcade machines are getting more obsolete each year, concerns are raised about whether the machines will end up eating the SA’s budget.
But Rollocks said that since the machines are operated by the contractors, the SA doesn’t pay for the machines at all.
“We don’t maintain them,” said Rollocks. “We don’t pay for the electricity which the machines use, so they cost us absolutely nothing.”
Rollocks told the Times that the machines were traded between two contractors: Howison Amusements and Pinhead Amusements.
Brian Whitman, from Howison Amusements, is the former contractor who used to run the arcade machines. He said that he sold them to Pinhead Amusements five years ago.
“I just wanted to retire,” said Whitman while explaining why he decided to quit the arcade business and sold the machines to Pinhead Amusements.
Whitman also said that the business was experiencing financial difficulties at the time.
“He was willing to buy, I was willing to sell, that’s it.”
This is confirmed by Geoff Parr, the person who runs Pinhead Amusements. He currently operates the arcade machines.
According to Parr, operation of the machines is still profitable.
“Every time I go there (the college),” said Parr, “I check them out, make sure they’re working right and whether I clean them or not.”
The Times tried to contact Parr again after learning that the machines are going to be removed, but received no response.