By John Lauritsen


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — From Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, to Space Invaders and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, there was a time when video game arcades were buzzing with kids.

Now, a Rice County man’s hobby is essentially going back in time by building arcades in his garage.

In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how a trip down memory lane has inspired a new generation of gamers.

Step into Matt Coulsey’s garage and one thing quickly becomes clear — he’s a man of the 80s.

And if you stick around long enough you’ll experience the sights and sounds of a real 80s arcade.

The kind Matt used to spend hours in.

“And I lived there and played and played and played. And I loved the culture. I loved the people,” said Matt.

So a few years ago he decided to bring that feeling back. He bought old, broken arcade machines and got them working again. Then he decided to hit the start button on something new.

“I built a couple. I took them to a wedding and they were a huge hit. And by the time the dance was over I had multiple offers to buy it,” said Matt. “If you are between 35 and 45 you know what up-up, down-down, left-right, left-right A, B select start is.”

From the woodworking to the wiring, Matt can build an arcade cabinet in about 4 days, and he’ll buy and install hardware that let’s fellow arcade enthusiasts play Ms. Pac-Man, Joust, NBA Jam, Donkey Kong and hundreds of others. While he still considers it just a hobby, he’s now known as the “Arcade Guy.” And people from all over come to him for their Mortal Kombat fix.

“It can get pretty nerdy, which I’m fine with,” Matt said.

So is his daughter Sophia.

“It’s really fun. He only posts the ones where he wins on Facebook, but I got to say I’m getting pretty good dad,” Sophia said.

In Matt’s garage, it’s never “game over.” And it’s not just the screens that light up, but the faces, too.

“It’s like an old song that puts you back in time,” said Matt. “You take all those bits and pieces and you can put something together. You can create something that people can connect to and really enjoy. And I like that. I like that a lot.”

For his next project Matt says he plans to build a 4-player arcade just for fun.

John Lauritsen

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