Greg Appleton is obsessed with video games thanks to Sega’s Top Skater arcade game which was once a prime attraction at Belconnen Mall.
Living in Canberra as students at the time, Mr Appleton and his wife spent what little money they had on watching movies and playing Belconnen’s popular game.
Fast forward 20 years, Mr Appleton had purchased that very game and moved it inside his Goulburn home to the delight of Mr Appleton’s wife – and this has only fuelled his desire to buy more.
“Things got out of hand,” Mr Appleton said with a smile on his face.
So, it’s no surprise the former sheriff was happy to spend hundreds of hours fulfilling a lifelong dream of building his own arcade in southern NSW.
Some of Goulburn’s residents will know Mr Appleton as the owner of a smaller arcade near BCF on Hume Street, however, the new Back to the Arcade inside the Workers Club Arena, is at least four times bigger.
After leaving Goulburn Court House and during the COVID-19 lockdown, Mr Appleton had more time than ever to empty what used to be a trampoline centre and build the larger-than-life arcade.
In fact, Mr Appleton was encouraged to build the bigger arcade by staff from the courthouse and local police who regularly showed up at his home to play video games.
Back to the Arcade features between 30 and 35 of the biggest, brightest and rarest games in Australia and can host up to 200 people.
Inside there are six mini bowling lanes, a laser tag maze, the only Star Wars Battle Pod in NSW – which cost a pretty penny at $50,000 USD – old school basketball hoops, ski ball and air hockey games, among others.
Mr Appleton said his philosophy is if it’s too big for a house, it’s perfect for the arcade.
“My focus is on getting the biggest, baddest games I can,” he said.
“A lot of people buy a pinball or arcade machine and put it in their shed. I want to get the ones you couldn’t get through your front door.”
Open for just three weeks, the arcade is already busy with children playing excitedly and relaxed parents who know hours can easily be spent here.
Each game only costs between $1 and $3 with Mr Appleton keeping the prices low to encourage everyone to play.
“The arcade industry used to be one that tried to get as much money out of people who were briefly in town. I don’t see this arcade surviving like that. I want people to keep coming back and enjoying themselves,” he said.
Mr Appleton has also made the arcade an inclusive space and believes it’s the only arcade with a disability-friendly laser tag.
Already, disability groups are booking out the arcade during the week while there are fewer crowds and staff can dim the lights and music.
People are free to walk in or book out the entire arcade, with two party rooms upstairs featuring more games and rare Star Wars memorabilia.
There’s also a small cafe serving hot dogs, hot chips, cupcakes, soft drinks and soon, beer and wine.
Back to the Arcade is located inside the Workers Club Arena at 135 Hume Street, Goulburn, and is open Friday from noon to 10 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.
During school holidays, Back to the Arcade is open Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm, Friday to Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.