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Meet The Guy Making Arcade Cabinets For Indie Games

Mark Kleback knows that, when gamers think of arcades, they think of ‘80s nostalgia titles like Pac-man and Q*bert. He’s been there—from his Brooklyn workshop, Kleback told Kotaku that he still fondly remembers hours spent railing on his local roller rink’s X-Men cabinet.


His vision for the future of arcades is different. Kleback hand-builds arcade cabinets for New York’s flourishing indie multiplayer scene and is working toward carving out a space for indie arcades in New York City.

Since 2010, Kleback has designed custom cabinets for new indie games like Crystal Brawl and Particle Mace and installed them at bars, music venues and galleries around Brooklyn and Manhattan. He’s a part of the Death by Audio arcade collective, which is comprised of about 20 people and produces cabinets for New York-based indie developers. Total, Kleback’s built nearly 20 cabinets. Lit marquees, joysticks, buttons, hand-painted wood—this what he offers to the games he loves.

Illustration for article titled Meet The Guy Making Arcade Cabinets For Indie Games

We spoke with Kleback at his Brooklyn workshop and played indie games on his cabinets at a music venue called Silent Barn and other local sites.

“I would love to have a space with a shop in the back, a bar, and all these cabinets, and start making really crazy games of all kinds,” Kleback told us. “My target is to put a game in a community space and have people come together to play it.”

Video by Mandy Mandelstein
Camera Operator: Jared Auslander
Archival Footage: Nick Santaniello/DBAA
Special Thanks: Silent Barn

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

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I wasn’t really aware of the indie arcade cabinet scene until recently, when my co-workers and I stumbled upon Killer Queen in a bar in San Francisco. It features two oversized cabinets with five players per side. It’s one of the most entertaining PvP games I’ve played. It’s essentially 5v5 Joust with three different potential win conditions per match.