Brother, can you spare a quarter?
A pair of local video-game fanatics plan to purchase artsy Bushwick watering hole Secret Project Robot, and are soliciting donations for their bid to retrofit the space into a beer-slinging arcade showcasing the borough’s underground video-game scene.
“The indie-music scene has all these bands who are making their own way, doing their own thing, and it’s very similar to the indie-gaming scene,” said would-be bar owner Mark Kleback. “It’s these kids making weird video games, who aren’t getting paid a lot, who are doing it because they’re passionate about it.”
Kleback is a commercial artist who spends his spare time crafting custom arcade cabinets for indie games often developed in and around Kings County, including physics-based space brawler Particle Mace, multi-player battle arena Crystal Brawl, and Slam City Oracles, a game about slamming into stuff, which he showcases at artsy pop-up events across the city.
But the costly logistical challenge of transporting his nearly two dozen full-size arcade machines across the city led the cabinet maker and his fiance Stephanie Gross to seek a permanent home for the gaming collection. The owners of Secret Project Robot, who also operate nearby saloon Flowers for All Occasions, came to the couple earlier this year with an offer to sell the business, including all its booze, mugs, appliances, and liquor licenses.
In response, the gamers turned to Kickstarter to request $70,000 for their new business, which they plan to dub Wonderville. In just over a week, fans have pledged a whopping $42,074, which includes a $10,000 cash infusion from a West Coast arcade collector, who will receive a custom cabinet from Kleback if the fund-raising campaign proves successful.
With 21 days to go in the digital money drive, the couple feels good, according to Gross, who anticipates opening as early as May, if all goes well.
“We’re really, really so appreciative to everyone that’s been donating and spreading the word,” said Gross. “It’s been a lot of positivity.”
The couple have not settled on exactly how they will fund the business — the machines are not coin operated — but there is a good chance the gaming portion of the venue will require a modest cover, and will feature enough live events, including musical acts, to justify the charge, said Gross.
“We want to keep it affordable for sure,” she said.