I just realized this week that when I created this new website for the business, I forgot to transfer over my "About Me" from the old website. That was the page where I rambled on in a quite long and drawn out fashion about my personal life, beliefs, convictions, and mission. Now my old computer with the source code for that site has died and I don't have it readily available. So I will just start from scratch and give you a little flavor of the insanity that is John Yates.
The human creative force behind VintageVideogames.com, Arcadia, American Pride Amusements, Hotel Arcadia, the Game Dungeon, Arcade-bar-in-a-box, etc is John Yates. I say that because I don't want to take ultimate credit / responsibility for any of it, but want to credit the unending blessings of God in bringing all this about. None of this could have been accomplished absent the countless ways God has blessed me since birth. I'm not a subscriber to "white privilege" really (although I do acknowledge that in the amusement business I probably got in more doors being white than I would have if black), but I definitely have benefitted from the undeserved privilege of being a child of God. I don't want to get into a hour long theological discussion about the relationship between prosperity and God's blessing. This isn't about prosperity - believe me...I'm not rich. I live as close to the edge of bankruptcy as anyone around here. I'm talking about how God has blessed me with the opportunity to do something so fun and rewarding for a living. And he has blessed it with enough success to at least keep it going and put food on my family's table.
This blessing all started back in ....well I'm old enough that I don't really want to say when it started...but it started with birth into a great, loving family with a wonderful mother and father who have ALWAYS been there for me, through thick and thin. And I have given them lots of thin over the years. My mother stayed home to raise my sister and me, despite being brilliant and capable of doing anything she wanted. My dad worked tirelessly to provide for us, but was always there to take me to church, play with me, take us on family vacations, take me on all kinds of father son trips, dinners, breakfasts, you name it. My parents were impeccable role models. I NEVER saw them fight, even once. I never saw them have a drink of alcohol. My dad did smoke for the beginning of my life, but quit cold-turkey when I was still pretty young. I got plenty of discipline. I think my last spanking was at age 17 or 18. May sound crazy, but believe me, I needed every spanking and probably a few more to be honest.
My parents never walked away from me or gave up on me, even when being visited by the Police, or getting calls from the school about bad behavior. They helped me through all of my teenage struggles - I suppose I won't be so transparent as to list them here. But there were plenty of them.
I was blessed to be born in this great country. There is no other country on Earth where I could have done what I have done. The opportunities in this country are limitless (so far). It is truly a blessing to be born here.
I was further blessed to go to and graduate from the University of Illinois in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The degree didn't really do much for me frankly, but I did meet my wonderful wife of 26 years (as of this writing) at U of I. Much more to follow.....when I have time.....
...ok, let me get this back to my story as it relates to the Arcade business. I grew up, like most boys from my generation, loving arcades and arcade games. Any time my family went anywhere there might be a game or arcade, I was drawn to it. From my earliest memories. I remember playing old EM pinballs when I was really little, and being absolutely mesmerized by them. My church had a member who had a chain of doughnut shops and had a few arcade games in them, so he put a few in the church. Most memorably, an air hockey game and a cocktail Pong (clone). Looking back, it was one of the most boring, ugly, pointless games ever, but I played it like it was the funnest game ever created. Also he had a Batter Up pinball in the pastor's basement.
My parents didn't mind me playing games for free, but were frugal people and thought that 25 cents to play a game was a total waste of money. So they didn't give me money to play games. I was welcome to spend my lawn-mowing money or birthday money or whatever on games, but they otherwise didn't contribute to my addiction. So I mostly just hung out in local arcades with my friends, watching them play and hoping to find free games or quarters once in a while. I really wanted to play, but rarely could. This created in me a longing for games that I didn't realize at the time would affect and shape my future.
My local arcade was owned by Bally, and every once in a while, would put a price on a game that they were ready to part with. This really interested me, and I purchased my first game from them when I was a senior in High School, using money from my job at Red Lobster. It was a Sega Star Trek upright (in the convert-a-cab cabinet) for $99. My parents let me put it in our library on the first floor, and I played the heck out of that game. Knowing what I know now, I can't believe it worked so well for so long. In fact, I think it worked fine until I sold it to a school mate when I went off to college the next year.
more to follow....