Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Rick Barretto, who is displayed on card number 3242, from the Superstars of 2019 Collection.    Rick is an all-around gaming enthusiast.   He is a collector, author, inventor and an industry entrepreneur.   In 1998 Rick invented the first PC-based video arcade for home/office use.  Rick also owns a LAN Network company that trains eSports team and players.   One of his alumni is Tyler “Ninja” Blevins of Fortnite fame. In 2013 Rick and his wife Cara created a gaming charity called “Video Game Palooza”.   This charity motivates interest among you in STEM education and video game careers.   Video Game Palooza was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame on October 5th, 2019.

Do you see a need to educate new developers on the historic games and the foundations they laid?

YES! This is one of the reasons we created Video Game Palooza. They can’t just focus on the $10 million-dollar titles with all the state-of-the-art graphics – they need to focus on GAMEPLAY by studying what the 80’s games were like and what they were able to develop in such a small memory and performance footprint.

Why Video Games?

Video games (for me) is a way of life! Since I was about 8 years old, I can vividly remember seeing the Atari 800 computer when it came out and “selling everything I had” in my room and from my parents closets to go buy a 48k memory computer plus the cassette and floppy drives and taught myself how to write games. Even back then I created “sound” and text/graphic adventures on my computer – think of Zork or Wizard & the Princess but I figured out a way to add a soundtrack…using Star Wars music from the record! That has blossomed to a 20+ year in the arcade business inventing new products, traveling around the world, meeting incredible people in the industry and best yet helping tens of thousands of people enjoy games, expand imaginations and bring families together. Video games have helped me make fantastic connections with all four of my children (ranging from 2 to 18) and bring creativity in thought, imagination crossed with entrepreneurial endeavors that help make people’s lives better. So, I am giving you the “brief” response to this answer – would love to be able to expand this question to an entire book or movie one day!

What’s your favorite Video Game and why?

I get asked that all the time. The way I answer it is always the same – it is really hard to pick ONE game because I have a favorite on every platform. They are all different so I will answer the question but add the dimension of the platform: Arcade Game: Discs of Tron: Because I loved the movie (one of my favorites) and who would not love to by Flynn throwing discs at another person trying to knock them off the platform. One of the games I am fairly good at. Modern console: Nintendo 64 Mario 64- Because I loved the way they immersed you in the game in 3D and especially all the puzzles you get to solve in that game. Pre-PC (Amiga): Dungeon Master – This was an amazing game on the Amiga platform (one of my favorite game platforms) – but this Quasi 3D environment was an amazing way to explore dungeons, solve riddles and enhance your character. There are lots and lots more but those would be a few of my highlights and like I said – I don’t think there is a “1” favorite – it more is over time as you go through time – different ages and different times of life for different reasons you have favorite games that tie to strong emotions when you are playing them.

When did you first know you wanted to be involved in Video Games?

As previously mentioned, when I was about 8 years old and the Atari 800 computer was discovered as well as when I got the Atari 2600 system. My dad’s office was very close downtown Indy to one of the largest 2600 DISTRIBUTORS so he would come home every week or two with a new 2600 game that I would try out. Was always fun and even though I grew up in the Midwest where there was basically ZERO video game industry – I decided to create my own video game industry in 1998 and has been incredible ever since.

What was the first Videogame you saw and where did you see it? What was your reaction to it?

As I write this and quickly try to remember – probably either PONG or “Air Sea Battle” on Atari 2600. It was also around the time when the little motorcycle game in the form of an Atari console came out – all those were about the same. I was totally blown away and excited each time I got a new Atari 2600 new video game cartridge to add to my collection. That also probably helped influence my ‘addition’ to game collection with over 4,000 retro games (most all boxed) and consoles and over 300 full size arcades in my collection – no wonder a few years ago I was featured on the MTV “Obsessed” featurette!

How do Compare vintage videogames of the 1980s to today’s Videogames?

The games of the 80’s were obviously much easier to play and master. Even though we had 8-bit graphics and shorter stories and gameplay that does not mean any of them by today’s standard could be categorized as “easy”. Even today my sons (16 and 18) still play games of Atari 2600 “Basketball” and “Football” and the one vs one joystick vs joystick still is AMAZINGLY competitive. You can just pick up the game and start playing. In many ways today’s video games are much more difficult to play. The graphics are realistic and mind-blowing, the stories are deep, rich and immersive and take lots and lots of time to get through and are very rich but there is still something to be said for the simplicity and “pick it up and play” era of video games and having one or two buttons as opposed to 10 or 15 buttons and having to read large guides in order to play todays’ games. This is why I love playing all the retro games on any of the DreamAuthentics we manufacture and reliving those old games and keeping those times alive for current and future generations. This is why I love what my good friend Tommy Tallarico is doing with the new Amico Intellivision is making – going back to that era of simplicity in games. Love it!

What are you currently playing? Why?

 Good question! Now I am playing Diablo 3 when I can. I have been playing it since it has come out and love the game – I have enjoyed going through it again and again and advancing in Paragon (currently @ 1,200) mostly playing a Wizard. I like playing because with 4 kids at home ranging from 2 to 18 I don’t have long extended time to play unfortunately unless it is 2 or 3am so you can hop in – run through a few dungeons solo as group and the great thing is at this level on Greater Rift 90-95 it is a breeze going through and killing stuff with my wizard – very satisfying lol. If I have time, I also love playing WOW – have been playing since the inception but don’t always have time for massive raids anymore. Recently got my 5-year-old Hope a new character in Elywn Forrest and she loves it. Naturally my 2 boys are big WOW players that started years ago. Just as the reason I create games and platforms like DreamAuthentics – to bring families together is the reason I play!

Describe the ideal relationship between Videogame players (gamers) and developers.

As mentioned, – I love what my friend Tommy Tallarico is doing with Intellivision and the Amico. Having the platform at first certify the games and experience – similar to what they did with the Wii. Making the developers focus on a core set of ideals and gameplay objectives like family friendly, grandma and mom can play and bringing family together. I also love the fact that they can stay within a budget and we don’t necessarily need 3 or 4 big MMO’s like WOW and billion-dollar companies coming up with these huge games. I think that is fantastic, but the standard developer may feel a bit overwhelmed trying to get a job with Blizzard etc.… would love the independent gamers to create their own titles and help them get there.

If you have or could have an arcade in your home what’s in it?

 Yes – I have had many arcades in my home over the years – one of the primary reasons why I created DreamAuthentics. I scaled down my arcade recently in the house as we have most all our games at Video Game Palooza that tour around and are shared with others to play. Currently I have: Tempest, Super Sprint (4 wheels), Centipede, Virtua Fighter, Space Invaders, Hydro Thunder, Zaxxon, Tron and of course a one-of-a-kind DreamAuthentics skinned with Video Games Live – we are still a show sponsor (10 years running) and this cabinet toured around the country for years and all the video game industry luminaries signed this arcade! It is a piece of history.


Todd Friedman Todd Friedman (394 Posts)

Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the retro gaming community and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit in Chicago, IL for the past 16 years. He also has published 2 books and written for various different gaming magazines including Old School Gamer.