Bringing a new dimension of fun to Oshkosh
In 1971 an idea was born. Atari founder, Nolan Bushnell, started putting his games in bars. His idea was to test out games in an environment where people were already going to have a good time and see how the games would fare before releasing on a larger scale.
It’s an idea Atari would use when they placed a game called Pong in Andy Capp’s Tavern, a Sunnyvale, California bar, a year later. After a week the owner of the bar called Atari to come check on their game as it wasn’t working. When Atari employee, Al Alcorn, arrived he was amazed to see that game became inoperable because so many quarters had been put into the machine that it tripped it’s starting mechanism.
Fast forward decades later and the idea of arcade games in bars is surging. From the long-running Ground Kontrol in Portland, Oregon to the famous Barcade franchise on the East coast – arcade bars are popping up all over the country.
This wave of entertainment has found its way to Oshkosh as Pixels Arcade & Sports Bar is scheduled to open on March 15th!
Pixels Arcade & Sports Bar will feature over 30 classic and modern games, pool tables, dart boards, air hockey, Foosball and more than 10 TV’s! I had the pleasure of sitting down with Pixels owner and Oshkosh resident, Rob Strom. We talked on what type of experience the community can expect and, of course, what awesome games we can look forward to.
Q: Why an arcade bar? Are you an avid gamer?
A: Because I can! I’ve always wanted a sports bar but I would watch my kids play their games and would say to them, “My games are better than your games.” I said, you know what, I’m going to open up an arcade and sports bar.
Q: Have you owned a bar/restaurant in the past?
A: I’m an accountant by trade but I’ve worked restaurants and would bar tend on and off over the years. I grew up in Milwaukee and always worked at different pizza restaurants.
Q: What games had the greatest impact on you growing up?
A: I’m an 80’s kid! Kiddy corner from the pizza place I worked at was the Gamesville Arcade. I would work, make a little bit of tip money and then go over to Gamesville and play Crazy Climber and Centipede. So that’s my era and that’s what I’m trying to recreate here. We’ll have some of the more modern games and stuff like that but I’m trying to keep it 80’s.
Q: How did you decide on the name?
A: So, I was going to call it Gamesville after the arcade in Milwaukee but none of my buddies liked it. Then, that Pixels movie comes out with Adam Sandler and it has all the retro game references in it and my kids were like “Dad, you should name it Pixels!” I liked it because when I was a kid we talked about things in terms of pixels. Now everything is in terms of megabytes or terabytes but back then it was literally a dot moving across the screen.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the opening/people to see?
A: Well, my prized possession right now is Punch-Out! That was my game growing up. But I’m trying to get Crazy Climber and Paperboy. I just want it to be a place where the kids can come and play games while mom and dad have a beer and watch sports. Then, at night, turn into something else. At night it would be more adults, more drink specials, etc…
Q: Did Player 2 opening up in Appleton have any impact on your decision to open up Pixels Arcade?
A: I didn’t even know there were arcade bars. About 8 – 10 months ago I was looking around at spaces and I decided to Google arcade bar and saw that on the East coast they are blowing up like crazy. That’s when I saw that Player 2 was [in Appleton]and went to check it out. I thought, what if I could do this in a bigger spot and add pool tables, dart leagues and sports.
Q: What type of food will be available?
A: I’ll have pizzas, appetizers and I’m still working on what kind of finger foods I’ll have. But I bought a giant, self contained deep fryer and high-speed oven. So, that will all be right behind the bar.
Q: What will the drink menu look like?
A: I’ve got my cousin’s bar tending expertise as well as three different beer vendors who are all giving input, but what I’d figure what I’d do for the first month or so is hand out suggestion cards and change up the drink menu based on the feedback I’m getting.
Q: Anything you’d like to mention about the sports side of the bar?
A: Sports will be on the TV’s 24/7. If there’s 3 things I know in life it’s where my kids need to be, spreadsheets and sports!
Pixels Arcade & Sports Bar will open Friday, March 15th. For a full games list and hours of operation please visit them on Facebook at Pixels Arcade Oshkosh.