The poser spokesman
So a story has been circulating through the news lately, and it’s something I happen to know a bit of insider information about so I figured I’d share. This, of course, is about Chris Kooluris, the guy from NYC who turned his bedroom into a small arcade. You can read about what he did, and that he lost his fiance because of it, here.
Now, let’s start earlier. He joined the arcade collector forums for KLOV/VAPS, apparently looking for help in building his arcade. He posted for awhile, and before long things soured. He disregarded advice, was combative or obnoxious for no real reason other than ego, and ignored rules of the forums. He’s since been banned permanently for threatening people via private message. It seemed from the beginning that he was really pushing to be a sort of public spokesperson for the hobby. He works in public relations, so the Wired article that started all of this was likely arranged by him, though I don’t know for sure.
Now before you all get uppity and defend the guy, let me throw this out. Buying a few games and throwing them in a room is something anyone can do. He spent $32k on about $10k worth of games, and has one of the most poorly designed MAME pedistals I’ve ever seen. An example of what I’m talking about is that the player 3 and 4 controls have 6 buttons each, which no game in existence uses.
In the wired article, he tried painting the KLOV community as a bunch of haters. I can clear that up right off the bat. The community there didn’t really give a shit that he had a Fix it Felix and a MAME pedistal. Most collectors have at least one multicade. MAME is very commonplace, especially since most people have limited space. As is typical with articles like this, things were taken out of context. If he was an honest, humble dude just looking to learn and get into the hobby because of his love of games, he’d have no problems. I have a MAME cabinet in my collection, and I’ve NEVER gotten shit for it. It’s all about how you talk to people, and this guy apparently sucks at it because he really tarnished his own image online. To be clear, I’ve NEVER had an issue with anyone on those forums that blew up, and none of my fellow collectors have either. Sure, there are some bad eggs, but MOST of the bigger names on there were his detractors. The idea is simple: if you want to learn about the games, fix them, and enjoy them, then you’ll be fine. If you want to go there to brag about what you just spent a ton of money on and don’t have any interest in learning about, then obviously there will be friction. However, you can choose to take that friction and laugh it off, or get combative. He chose the latter.
Anyways, pedantic ranting aside, let’s just call this what it really is. This is a story of a guy who spent 32 grand for his 15 minutes of fame. He’s not representitive of the arcade collecting/restoring community. He’s just like every other guy with expendable income who buys games to put in his place. Hell, I know a private collector who dedicated an entire floor to his arcade, and he has ~95 arcade machines on the floor up and running. Where’s the story for him? Nowhere. Know why? Because he’s not in it for the fame.
This kid overspent on his games, did pretty much no work on any of them, and had zero interest in learning anything about them. He is also known to have PAID people to come over and play games with him. Sorry, kid, but having money doesn’t make you special, no matter what you spend it on. He wasn’t really in this for the games, he was in this for the “I have cool shit” aspect, and fame he was able to get from his contacts. Let’s face it, without any contacts, he’d be low on the list of people Wired would approach as far as home arcades go. Hell, MY home arcade is more substantial, and I spent about a fifth of what he did. Considering all of that, I’m amazed that TIME magazine dubbed his home arcade as the best ever!!! What an absolute joke!
The real kicker here is that I was one of his supporters. I spoke in his defense when he mentioned the stuff about the wired article, but never read it when it was released. I had no idea he chose to paint the community in a shitty light, otherwise I’d have written this sooner. I’ve gotten shit from time to time from local collectors about having a bunch of JAMMA games in my collection instead of older titles, but that’s just a “to each their own” thing. Some people like older games, some like newer games. Don’t throw a fit online because someone disagrees with your preference for Fix it Felix or whatever. I don’t let game opinions bother me because they’re just that, opinions.
To Mr. Kooluris I would say this: You are not our spokesperson, no matter how much you’ve tried. I don’t care how viral that story goes (it’s been picked up across dozens of media outlets.). When all the shit is sifted through, you’re just a poser (regardless of what you think) with money and contacts, and people should know that. This wasn’t done for the hobby, this was done for your ego. You give those of us who really give a damn about the hobby a bad name and shitty image. Not all publicity is good publicity, and telling a story about how you threw some cabs in a room, which lead to your fiance losing you, is a pretty shitty image. If you wanted to help the community, why not suggest the story and interview different collectors? Instead we get a sensation-style piece about a guy with too much money who threw some globs of paint on the wall and called it art. You’re nothing more than a poser, my friend, like i-r()k from Ready Player One.
All of this makes me wish someone did a REAL story on arcade preservation, interviewing people who do restorations and collectors who’ve been at it for decades. We don’t need just one spokesperson here, we have a community. But, if we DID need one, this guy would NOT be it.