During a routine Funspot management meeting in September 1998, a casual idea was brought to the table that created what is known today as The American Classic Arcade museum. At the end of the weekly meetings, Funspot owner and General Manager, Bob Lawton always asks, “Are there any other topics before we close the meeting?” Long time Funspot employee, Gary Vincent suggested an arcade museum based on the already impressive collection of older arcade games on the third floor at Funspot. Bob thought the idea was worth pursuing and gave the green light to the project.
In December 1998, Funspot was approached by New Hampshire Pro Video Game Team members, Ken Sweet, Jenn Moore and Corey Sawyer to see if Funspot would allow them to use the facility as a practice place for their team. Having thought video game teams were a thing of the past, Gary Vincent sat down and talked with them about their team and the games they played. At the conclusion of the meeting, Gary asked Ken if anyone would be interested in a tournament on classic games and received a positive reply. Shortly thereafter, Ken put Funspot in touch with Walter Day of Twin Galaxies and the plans were laid for the first tournament that took place in May 1999. Funspot and The American Classic Arcade Museum have expanded the tournament to four days and the attendance in 2008 exceeded 175 players. The tournament is always held the Thursday through Sunday after Memorial Day weekend.
The first tournament drew approximately 60 players, one of which came all the way from Israel. This tournament also garnered much attention from the media due to its uniqueness and the allure of games that most people thought were long gone. Radio stations and newspapers across the country contacted Funspot regarding the tournament. At this time, Gary Vincent realized the arcade museum idea had merit.
In 2000, the balcony that surrounded the kiddie room inside Funspot was closed in giving the arcade museum additional space and a better layout for the growing collection of games which numbered 200 at that time and today is well over 275 games. This new room was themed to reflect the arcade look of the late 1980’s.
In 2002, The American Classic Arcade Museum received 501c3 non-profit status from the IRS. This designation was the next step in furthering the museums mission to save coin-operated arcade history. The museum was able to start hosting fundraising bingo games to help fund restoration projects and to gather memorabilia for its archives.
2009 marks the 11th Annual International Classic Video Game Tournament for the museum and is shaping up to be another huge event. Over the past eleven years, players have traveled from Israel, England, Ireland, Holland, Finland, Canada and Australia to compete in this event.
The museum and the tournament have grown every year thanks to the efforts of its member and many volunteers who contribute time and resources to help preserve a piece of Americana for future generations.