Houston—From beer, burgers, baseball, to a big below ground basin, we’ve got a big list of things to do in the Bayou City. Now added to that includes an incredible place to play a few games.
“You’ll see stuff here you either have not seen before or that you want to see again,” said Charles Kalas, owner of Joystix.
Charles opened this unique game room at the gates of Minute Maid Park back in 2003. It serves mostly as a showroom and not a public arcade, but this retro room is open for rent for private parties and events.
“We turn everything on and then you have your own instant game room for yourself,” said Charles.
Attached to his Eighteen Twenty bar, the game room is a great place to get some drinks. If you happen to go on the first and last Friday of the month, you might get a chance to sneak in to see the assortment of games Charles has on hand; and if you are in the market for a machine, he is your guy!
“Buy ’em [a machine] and take it home tonight!” said Charles.
His passion for playing games while getting paid all started at the age of 14 when he saved up his allowance and bought his first machine.
“This is my first machine I ever bought back in 1987. It’s the only game that truly I will say is not for sale no matter anything,” he said. “It’s actually a pretty reliable machine… At 14, starting a business and knowing that it would probably never end because I’d have to keep working forever. It was neat.”
From there Charles kept building his business.
“I would go to auctions when I was in high school. I’d buy a Pac-Man for $50 or a Tempest for $100, put them in a restaurant or a bar or a hotel. And then, while everybody else was having fun…going out after school. I’m running around counting my quarters and fixing games,” he continued, “from there it went to college, at A&M, and put games in the Dixie Chicken and Dudley’s Draw and all in Northgate and stuff like that.”
Today he has 9,000 square feet of all sorts of games that are for sale or for rent and reminiscing about how radical the 80’s were is part of the joy of Joystix.
“A dinosaur, like me, remembers back when we used to play games in arcades,” said Charles. “The whole social interacting aspect of it, that’s what people like.”
A step into this showroom is a blast to the past, as it is packed with a massive assortment of pinball machines and an array of other arcade games. He even has four of the first arcade game invented.
“A lot of people think that Pong is the first machine ever. [It didn’t come out] until about 1974. Over here we have Computer Space. It came out in 1972 and I mean look, you got to appreciate…the futuristic look here,” he said.
If playing games sounds like the perfect place to spend some time, then putting your hands on the controls at Joystix is well worth a couple of quarters on The Texas Bucket List.