Founded by Kevin Steele of Gameroom Magazine, RetroBlast! is a website that acts as a resource for home arcade enthusiasts – men and women who yearn for the pre-computer days of arcades and joystick-based game controls. With product reviews and gaming articles, the site hopes to give collectors information about how and where to obtain equipment to feed their habit. COIN-OP TV came out of this same need, and is hosted by the RetroBlast! site. It is produced, written, and occasionally hosted by Robert Welkner, AKA “Pennyman,” a gamer who only recently realized the potential of retrogaming as a hobby. Other hosts include Taryn Southern and a bevy of female guest hostesses. The first ten episodes, filmed at California Extreme in September 2004, set the site in motion.
Episodes are sorted into a variety of categories, including event coverage spots, product reviews, industry interviews, collector spotlights, and even original content – such as a short film written as a tribute to retrogaming, using the evolution of arcade games as its plot. Episodes take place all around the country, including California – where the company is based, but even stretching out to New Jersey. Industry interviews are often amateur, but do a good job at showcasing this niche culture. For example, Gorf champion Todd Rogers gives out tips to completing each level of the game and demonstrates the best way to win at the racing classic, Monaco GP. The hosts, particularly the female ones who aren’t really gamers themselves, rely on industry professionals to do the product reviews, determining if new controllers, like the enormous and ubiquitous Arcade in a Box, are sufficient to allow for the retro games to be played effectively. The site is definitely intended for those really invested in retrogaming, though Generation Xers will still surely get some pangs of wicked nostalgia as they see their favorite old-school titles – like Ms. Pac-Man and Dig Dug – come back in style.
There are times when it seems that this site is intended for boys. One such time includes a challenge by Coin-Op host Danielle to Miss Winnipesaukee ’04, Justine, to a round of air hockey. A crowd of all-male on-lookers, who no doubt appreciate the girls’ low-cut tops as they lean over the table, cheers them on. For a girl gamer’s take on gaming, check out the interview with Anna Cram at the end of this episode.