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Modern arcades growing in popularity with craft beer, family-friendly approach

BROOKFIELD, Ill. -- What’s old is new again, as arcades stocked with game cabinets and pinball machines are opening their doors once again around the world.

People like Doc Mack of Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, Ill., have made it their business to bring back arcades back. He has 633 games packed into his arcade, where gamers play shoulder-to-shoulder. For some players, it's the fun that brings them in. For others, it's an emotional journey back in time. For hardcore gamers, he has both the classics and rarities.

Doc said he's seen it all since he opened in 2010.

“We have over 300 world records that have been set here since we opened,” Doc said. “Some of them take multiple days to actually play to get those scores.”

While the games themselves may seem familiar, you can keep your quarters in this digital age. Unlimited play costs just $20 a day, and record-setters often spend days trying to beat their personal best, or someone else across the globe.

Doc said he has the largest collection of non-redemption (so no tickets) games in one place. Inside the arcade, no food, no drinks and no jackets are allowed on the machines--and definitely no gum. In seven years, he said there has not been a single fight.

Galloping Ghost is well-known within the industry. In January alone, he had 60 inquiries about how to open a museum and fully operating video arcade. Because, he said, 80,000 people walked through his doors last year.

“Since we opened in 2010, we’ve helped 22 arcades open literally all over the world,” Mack said.

Today’s businesses are finding new ways to market your old arcade favorites. In suburban Schaumburg, Ill., the makers of Pac-Man have gotten into the game by taking a different approach. Three years ago, they opened Level 257, an adult dining and entertainment destination where kids are welcome too.

You can load up a card with as much money as you’d like. Games are between 50 cents and $2. The average cost for a kid is about $20 a visit. Games where you can redeem prizes are the most popular. There's also bowling, craft beer and a bold menu they’re proud of. It’s a prototype the company hopes to open elsewhere.

From other arcades like Replay in Lincoln Park, to big-screen movies like "Pixels," business owners are finding new ways to play into the continuing resurgence of video arcades around the world.

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