In the heart of the college town of DeKalb, Illinois there is a small arcade of about 45 machines. Looking closer at them, it is clear to see how meticulously clean and well preserved they are, almost like the day they were new. Patrick O’Malley, or “Pac-Man-Pat”, as many of his peers call him, is a extremely knowledgeable individual who truly shows a general love for all games.
Besides running his arcade on a daily basis, O’Malley is also a private distributer and repairs his own machines. He is always on the lookout for old cabinets and materials to fix up classic machines. He supplies games from DeKalb all the way up to Wisconsin, and works close with clients to provide the ‘perfect’ set up.
Started at the age of 12, Patrick O’Malley knew from a very young age that he wanted to devote himself to making his very own arcade the right way. When asked about what advice he would give to someone with a similar passion as he does, he responded with:
“Be prepared to lose a lot of sleep, if you’re doing it right. Plus, you’re going to have a lot of employees and that’s the one thing where I think I’ve got a different, weird edge in what I do is that I know every aspect of my business. I’ve done it all, and I’m still doing it all. Whereas, you get into a bigger situation, and someone says: “Okay, I have a lot of money”. They can just buy their way into everything, and then hire a bunch of employees, again, that’s not what I want. I don’t want an arcade full of 800 games. That means nothing to me. The personal touch is gone.”
Patrick O’Malley’s mission with Star Worlds Arcade is to “Play today the games you miss from yesterday!” and his arcade does just that. When the games are turned on, the arcade instantly comes to life and takes you back into a time machine of amazing nostalgia and fun times with friends and family.
Interview with Patrick O'Malley completed by Zdenek Jaks and Ramon Lopez on October 16th, 2015. Photographs by Zdenek Jaks. Transcription by Noah Grudowski, Efrain Fabian, and Arian Garcia. The full archive of the interview, including the complete audio file, full transcription, and additional photographs, is available through the IIT Institutional Repository.