ARCADE DUNGEON – ALAMOGORDO, NEW MEXICO
Our Location of the Month is Arcade Dungeon, a pinball gem located in Alamogordo, New Mexico and is owned by Daniel Humm. They are open exclusively on Friday and Saturday from 5PM – 10PM on a purely volunteer basis. They currently have 12 machines and growing.
Q: When did you get into the pinball business?
A: It was never our goal to be in the pinball business, actually. Brent and I (Daniel) are the managers at a local restaurant that Brent’s Dad owns called Pizza Mill and Sub Factory. We’ve worked together for 25 years. He and I share a love for classic arcade games. The restaurant has always had a few arcade games in it for customers to play. We used to have a fantastic vendor for most of it, until he moved out of town. Around 2002, when we just started using our own machines, it wasn’t long before one went down and now there was no one in our small town that could service them. So, I took it upon myself to learn how to fix them and my passion for arcade games really began.
We started buying more with the intention of building the ultimate personal collection of golden era arcade games. We never intended to add them to the restaurant. It was our hobby. We kept them in the building Brent’s Dad owns next to the restaurant where, on my off time, I would try to fix them and Brent would clean them up to make them look as original as the day they came from the factory as possible. After a couple years, of fixing and buying arcade games, I made the observation to Brent that our collection was growing pretty good, but it’s just sitting there. The building I was working on the games in, is right on a main street next to our already popular restaurant. If we were to open it up for the public to play our games, the quarters they bring in could go towards fixing and buying more machines.
Brent’s Dad gave us the building space and power for free, so we went to work creating the first real arcade in Alamogordo in about 20 years. We went all out to make it an authentic experience. From the decor, to the music, and pricing the video games a quarter a play…makes it feel like you stepped back in time to the 80s. Brent and I volunteer our off time to run it on Friday and Saturday nights, so that every quarter goes right back to the machines. In fact, that’s our motto; “With your help, every quarter will go toward the acquisition, restoration, and maintenance of classic arcade games.”
We don’t allow food and drinks inside and give instruction to those that enter that we are trying to preserve and protect the machines, and to play with care. People seem to love our model of preservation of arcade games over profit. Although, we had one glaring omission in our arcade, pinball machines. Brent has always loved pinball more than video games. I never really played them much as a kid, and since I was the tech guy at the time, I was intimidated by how hard it looked to fix. That was until three working pinball machines fell in our lap, and I couldn’t resist anymore. Just like the video games, I started learning.
I started with small fixes, adjusting switches and such, until I got a hang of it. Then I just fell in love with it, way more than fixing video games. Soon the arcade went from no pinball, to 12 machines and growing. They are priced era specific from a quarter up to a dollar. Our “business” model will never make a profit, but it helps us offset the cost of repairs and such so we don’t have to go into our own pocket so often. When the deal is there, you got to go for it. All but one of our machines is second hand. We try to buy as cheap as possible with the intent of restoring them. Plus, it gives the locals a way to experience something they wouldn’t otherwise get to do in our small town.
Q: When did you open this location?
A: The Arcade Dungeon opened in April of 2018. We added pinball in December 2018. We’re open from 5PM-10PM on Friday and Saturday nights, completely volunteer based.
Q: Do you guys run any tournaments or leagues? If so can you give us more details?
A: We are definitely open to it, but as of yet, no. Our small town has had a huge gap with having access to arcades, so much so that I’m finding whole generations of people coming to the arcade that have never seen a pinball machine, let alone played one. We have taught basic pinball skills to adults and children alike every weekend in an effort to try to promote pinball to new players. Maybe one day, we will grow enough that we can start tournaments.
Q: Do you have a specific pinball night and what other events/specials do you run?
A: As the arcade is only open on Friday and Saturday nights, plus we volunteer our time off to run it, it’s difficult to do special events. We did have a Stranger Things Arcade in the Upside Down Weekend event. I decorated and lit it to look like it does in the show complete with fog machine. It was cool, but a lot of work. I run the arcade on Fridays while Brent runs the restaurant. Saturdays it’s reversed and I run the restaurant. However with enough notice, anyone can rent the arcade for two hours for a private party during the times we’re normally closed, for a small fee.
Q: Do you fix your own games or do you use a local operator/tech?
A: I fix them, and together Brent and I restore them. Repairing them is where I actually find the most joy. I’m not that great of a player, Brent’s the pinball wizard. I love figuring out the problem and getting them working again. I’ve shifted my focus to repairing pinball over video games. We have so many projects in line right now that I only repair our own machines. There’s no one anywhere near us that maintains pinball machines, especially to the level that we want them. They all have to function properly and play just as the players expect or it is not in the arcade. We take pride in having properly working games and are quick to fix any problems that come up.
Q: What’s the last game you brought in and how often do you rotate?
A: Currently, Devil’s Dare was the last machine we placed in the arcade. Other pinball machines in there now are: Revenge from Mars, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Iron Maiden (Pro), Johnny Mnemonic, Star Wars: Episode I, Lights…Camera…Action!, OXO, Jurassic Park (Premium, the only machine we ever bought NIB), Volley, Black Pyramid, and Hyperball (technically not a pinball). We also have in the repair queue: High Speed, Haunted House, Stargate, Superman, Baby Pac-Man, and Bally’s Star Trek that will enter the arcade once they’re finished. We like having a broad variety of machines from different eras. Rotating is difficult. We are limited in space by our current building. We are hoping in the future to expand to the other half of our building doubling the size of the arcade, but that’s just a dream right now. Since we are trying to build the collection, we don’t sell anything. We would love to have every working machine we have in the arcade, so people can get a sense of every type of game out there. One day, maybe.
Q: What would be your holy grail of a machine?
A: Brent and I usually say we want ALL the games, but for me it’s probably Star Trek: The Next Generation, for Brent, it’s a little more difficult to narrow down to just one. Does he go for something rare like Defender or one he enjoys playing like Scared Stiff? A Top 10 he could probably do, but not just one.
Q: Do you partner with any other locations?
A: We don’t. There’s no one within 70 miles of us. I have offered to help the new bowling alley with their games. Their few pinball machines were set up so wrong it hurt my heart. I couldn’t help but offer assistance since I’m the only tech around.
Q: Do you go to any shows and IF SO which one is your favorite?
A: We would love to one day! We run a restaurant full time when we’re not in the arcade. It’s difficult for us to go anywhere and all the shows are quite a distance away from us. The only thing we do is not really a show, but it’s the the Stern Pinball Room at San Diego Comic-Con, which was fun and the only chance we get to play games we don’t own. That’s the only time off we really get.
Q: And your closing thoughts and what you do for the pinball community or your local community?
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR HOLY GRAIL MACHINE?
Brent and I usually say we want ALL the games, but for me it’s probably Star Trek: The Next Generation, for Brent, it’s a little more difficult to narrow down to just one. Does he go for something rare like Defender or one he enjoys playing like Scared Stiff? A Top 10 he could probably do, but not just one.
DO YOU GUYS BUY PARTS FROM US?
Absolutely! Whenever I need anything for our machines, Marco is the first place I go. My only problem is, I need to start making a list! Sometimes I order and forget what I was looking for because I get distracted by all the things for sale.
DO YOU PARTNER WITH ANY OTHER LOCATIONS?
We don’t. There’s no one within 70 miles of us. I have offered to help the new bowling alley with their games. Their few pinball machines were set up so wrong it hurt my heart. I couldn’t help but offer assistance since I’m the only tech around.
DO YOU GO TO ANY SHOWS AND IF SO WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?
We would love to one day! We run a restaurant full time when we’re not in the arcade. It’s difficult for us to go anywhere and all the shows are quite a distance away from us. The only thing we do is not really a show, but it’s the the Stern Pinball Room at San Diego Comic-Con, which was fun and the only chance we get to play games we don’t own. That’s the only time off we really get.
ALT QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU DO FOR THE PINBALL COMMUNITY OR FOR YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY IN GENERAL?
I couldn’t do anything I do with the arcade games or pinball machines without the resources on the internet, be it Pinside or suppliers like Marco. I have also been sharing about what I have learned about repair and also continue to learn new skills through our Twitch channel (twitch.tv/ArcadeDungeon). Since I’m a horrible player, most of the time I spend working on a machine and helping others that watch with advice about owning and maintaining their pinball machine. Recently, I streamed my first ever playfield swap on our High Speed. It was a learning experience for me and those watching. I always say to my viewers, owning a pinball machine is not like owning a TV. A TV you can usually just take out of the box and after a basic set up you don’t even have to think of maintenance for years. If you want to own a pinball, you have to learn at least basic maintenance on it or very quickly it could become a giant paperweight in your home. I also dump the raw streams onto YouTube for someone to reference in the future. I’ve learned so much in the short time that I’ve been repairing pinball machines that I now also am working on my own unique design that combines traditional and some never before seen features that I hope one day will pique the interest of a major pinball manufacturer. I plan on building a prototype soon which, of course, I’ll need to purchase some parts for from Marco Specialties. 😉