Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Gil Velez who is displayed on card number 3420, from the Superstars of 2020 Collection. Gil is also featured on card 3421. In 2016 Gil founded a Facebook group called “Arcade Game Repair Help Group”. This group offers real time repair help on everything from video games and pinball to crane games and ticket redemption games. The repair help is all free of charge and self-moderated. As of this week, the group has over 16,200 members. Gil also is featured on a Gorf Card which is one of his most favorite games of his collection.
What made you to start the Arcade Game Repair Group?
I was actually inspired by the Pinball Repair Help Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/609432482409545) as people answered so quickly and I was able to put the knowledge right to work repairing my pinball machines. So, I ported that to arcade games and 15k+ members later here we are!
Do you remember when you played your first arcade game and what do you remember about the experience?
Pretty sure it was a store called TwoGuys in Jersey City, NJ. The games I remember were Star Castle and GunFight. Late 70’s for sure. It was wonderful.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of arcade games?
I take my kids to Dave and Buster’s occasionally. They love it. But $20 sure goes fast!
How do you compare them to older, classic games?
They are pretty similar. Quick games to gobble credit. More redemption these days than back in the day.
What is your hardest arcade game that you have worked on in your career, what made it difficult to build?
Definitely vector. So sensitive and can break in so many different ways.
When did your first arcade open and how was the initial reception?
I’ve never owned an arcade. Just private collector and Facebook group owner.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
I don’t play many hand helds but I do remember the GameBoy pretty fondly. My kids have a Switch and that is pretty sweet too.
Do you prefer Arcade or Pinball gaming and why?
These days, pinball strangely. I have 15 pinball machines and only 6 video games these days. My collection has historically been video game heavy but that has flipped dramatically over the years.
What is favorite pinball game of all time and why?
Twilight Zone is surely up there. I do love my Big Lebowski and Jersey Jack Guns and Roses also. For Stern, probably Walking Dead is my favorite.
What does it take for someone to be a gaming technician, and what advice would you give a person who would like to get into the industry?
I honestly thought the tech knowledge would disappear when all the old operators passed or got out of the business but forums like mine, Pinside, and KLOV keep the knowledge alive. Parts suppliers like Marco, Happ, Betson, arcadeshop, and Twisted Quarter help us keep these games running. Main advice I would give is find something cheap, ask questions, and bring it back to life. Many issues like power supply repair and cap kits are repeatable repairs that are similar across games. Try to stay away from LCD screens for authenticity. And use switching power supplies wherever possible for reliability!
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Think that ship has sailed. I remember when Mortal Kombat came out it was a big fuss. Rating systems have helped across the board.
Which company today, in your opinion, makes the best games and why?
Pinball is super-hot right now. Think the best pinball buids are done by American Pinball. Stern still owns the market though. Jersey Jack makes the most beautiful machines. In terms of vids, I really don’t follow the newer manufacturers but assume Namco and others are still doing their thing.
Do you like it when consoles make home versions of the arcade games?
Gosh there are so many ports across systems ever since Atari. I think it was a big deal in the 80s but it also led to the collapse of the arcade market. Why go out to an arcade, when you can play PacMan at home? As the graphics got better at home the arcades started to die and pinball had a brief resurgence as you can’t replicate that on a console well.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Definitely not a life goal but happy it happened! Thanks to Walter for his kindness and attention.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading card?
A few social mentions, nothing crazy.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I have never met him in person but have interacted with him online a few times. He is pretty good friends with Richie Knucklez who also has a card and lives near me in NJ.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be?
What is your favorite arcade game of all time and what makes that game special?
Probably Dragons Lair. I’ve had 5 over my life time. Still have one in my garage I need to restore. Seeing a playable cartoon in the arcade was a game changer. It was so special.
When did you know you were really good at fixing up arcades and doing it for living?
To be honest, I did not get good at repairs until later in life. I started collecting around 24 years old but didn’t get serious about repair and restoration until by mid 30s.
Where do you see arcade and pinball machines in the next 10 years?
We are blessed to have so many classic arcades out there now so we can share the 80s and 90s experience with the younger generations. Games like PacMan, Donkey Kong, and the Addams Family are timeless and still resonate today. I see them continuing to go up in value. Both pins and vids. Pins are pretty much out of control price wise these days. I am glad I got all the major titles like Twilight Zone, Addams Family, and KISS early enough to not pay much. They are pretty out of reach now financially for many.
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.