Prince George's arcade fan to donate video game to museum

By Daniel Leaderman
The Gazette
Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mount Rainier's Joe Brewer always has considered the old arcade video games -- games such as Pac Man and Donkey Kong -- to be a kind of art form.

"The decals, the different paint jobs -- each one's unique and different," said Brewer, 30, whose hobby is restoring old video games.

He has collected 14 vintage, coin-operated games in his home. When the games are turned on, his basement glows, bleeps and buzzes like a real arcade.

Now, Brewer is giving up one of his games to help secure its place in video game history.

Brewer will donate one of his machines -- a restored Deluxe Space Invaders unit -- to the International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa, in early August. The nonprofit organization is working to build a permanent museum commemorating the important people, games and events in the history of video games.

Brewer said his love of the video games dates to his childhood, when he spent frequent afternoons working through a roll of quarters at an arcade in Greenbelt.

"I was never very good at any of the games," Brewer said. "I never had any of the high scores."

But fond memories of the games stuck with him and, while driving with his wife in October 2008, he noticed a laundromat that was throwing away a broken Ms. Pac-Man arcade game. He told his wife, Stephanie, that he wanted to go back and get it.

"I really didn't want to bring it home, but I decided it would be something fun for him to do," she said with a laugh.

Brewer got the game working again simply by tightening a few wires.

"I even made a profit, because there was $5 in quarters inside," he said.

He spent six months and about $400 restoring the machine to its original condition, which included installing a new monitor and repainting the outside designs to match the original colors.

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