By Ed Komenda
Craig Snelling learned how to repair arcade games out of necessity.
It was the summer of 1984 and he was 14 years old, living with his parents in Glendale, Calif., when his favorite game, Mario Bros., broke.
The video game scene already had exploded with the introduction of the Commodore 64 home computer and Atari console, but the science behind the games was a mystery to most. Repair manuals were rare. Google didn’t exist.
That didn’t matter to Snelling. He wanted to play.
“So I locked myself in the garage and figured it out,” he said.
Soon, Snelling had accumulated a couple machines in his garage. A friend suggested he sell them. He did and has been ever since.
Today, the 42-year-old lifelong gamer owns Billiards ‘N More, an arcade repair shop, game room and store with two locations in Las Vegas and plenty of business.
“The hobby is huge,” Snelling said the day before heading to Hawaii for a weeklong vacation, his first in more than 20 years. He always feared going crazy being away from the office too long.
Snelling likes his job. He makes good money, too.
He earns enough repairing and selling arcade games to employ 14 workers and pay $3,000 a month for commercials on the CW network. He stars in one, sinking an eight ball in the corner pocket of a pool table.
Despite the prevalence of console and smartphone gaming, there’s still strong local demand for retro pinball machines and arcade games.