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Few games are in the public domain, even if the company that created them is gone.The legality of possessing MAME retro games is disputed, with some arguing that you need to own the original arcade hardware boards to legitimately possess a game's ROM.
Today they sell for about $1200 and Reiss expects their value to "double or triple in the next five years".Many amusement centres have closed their doors, but the classic arcade games that thrilled a generation continue to be played, writes Jason Hill.Long before Play Station and Xbox, young people got their gaming fix at a local amusement arcade with a pocketful of change.While many centres are gone, the classic games that made the arcades so much fun continue to be played.Those "wayward" teens who once fed the insatiable appetites of coin-operated cabinets are well into their 30s and 40s and their nostalgia is fuelling a retro gaming boom.Even used arcade cabinets can cost thousands, but Reiss believes original coin-operated machines are reliable and excellent investments.
"These games were only produced once; so, as time goes on, their average condition diminishes.
"For those of us who've grown up playing games and don't have as much time to invest, retro games are nice quick alternatives to satisfy our gaming urges." Arcade gaming "coin-oisseurs" Oz Stick ( has produced high-quality desktop controllers for five years and is now supplying arcade parts and cabinets.
Oz Stick's Chris Wigg, who quit a high-paying job in technical support to satisfy the demands of nostalgic gamers, says arcade games might be plain to look at but still deliver great gameplay.
For those with modest budgets, clever software called MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, lets any computer owner relive their misspent youth, reopening an Aladdin's cave of retro gems. To enjoy retro games as they were originally experienced, many fans invest in real arcade controllers or build MAME cabinets housing a computer and hundreds of games.
Cameron Davis, 31, says many modern games demand too much commitment and "rarely with a suitable fun payoff".
"A huge number of people have walked into an arcade at some stage in their lives, usually as adolescents, and had an enjoyable experience," he says.