The history of the video game industry is filled with many people and events that helped develop and design how video games are currently accessed and perceived. As with all things however, this history tends to be swept away through time, and the pillars that helped forge this industry slowly fade into nothingness. While the general populace is content to let this natural erosion occur, a passionate few dare to resist the degradation of what they love. They do this, not for fame or glory, but to preserve what they can of the phenomena that not only touched, but defined the lives of so many of us today. One such guardian of the history of video games is Whitney Roberts.
Whitney Roberts has multiple ties to the coin-op industry, even in Chicago. Roberts hails from Louisville, Kentucky, and he collects, plays, and runs his own podcast. He collects all sorts of coin-operated games, even some rare games such as the Red Donkey Kong. He does this partially out of his love for these machines, but also to help preserve these games as well as the arcade experience for future generations to enjoy. Roberts is an advocate for arcades and thinks everyone should experience the atmosphere of an arcade. One of his favorite arcades is the Logan Arcade in Chicago. In addition to collecting, he runs BrokenToken, a podcast that he does as a hobby. The podcast is Roberts’s way of informing people of the important work he is undertaking, while trying to keep the audience entertained by putting a southern spin on the coin-op industry.
Interview with Whitney Roberts completed by Elizabeth Best, Ryne Czibor, and Alex Wall on November 21, 2014. Transcription by Elizabeth Best and Daniel Wente. Photographs by Ryne Czibor and Alex Wall. The full archive of the interview, including the complete audio file, full transcription, and additional photographs, is available through the IIT Institutional Repository.