This Guy Dropped $32,000 To Turn His Apartment Into A Fully-Functional Video Arcade. Jealous?
"There's a fine line between a hobby and an obsession," Chris Kooluris told Wired's Emily Dreyfuss as she toured his Manhattan flat, recently converted into an old-school video arcade. "There probably should be therapists for hobbyists," he quipped; "it can take over."
In Kooluris's case, it did. Here was a man who, like many of us, grew up playing video games. Here was a fellow who loved his hobby so much that he wanted to do something - something big - to immortalize it, to commemorate his beloved pastime. He wanted to turn his apartment into an old school video arcade, like the sort you never see in cities anymore.
Six months after setting out on the project, he's succeeded. A walk through his apartment is, according to Dreyfuss, like a walk through one's childhood. It's safe to say he probably has the coolest apartment in New York. There's just one problem...
It cost him $32,000, and what may well have been the love of his life.
Kooluris, from what I've heard, pretty much flies in the face of every geek stereotype you could possibly come up with. He's 37, he's got an incredibly successful career (he's a vice president Weber Shandwick which is one of the world's leading PR firms), he's not unpopular with the ladies, and he's in great physical shape. Stereotypes out the window, then?
Back before Kooluris decided to create his dream flat, life was going swimmingly for him. He'd just gotten engaged to his girlfriend of six months - a woman he'd met at work and almost immediately fallen in love with - and he was getting ready to sell his old apartment in order to move in with her. It was on a trip to the Grand Canyon that he realized - in spite of everything that was going right in his life - something was missing.
"The Transformers collection, all the things I really loved, were just boxed away and off to the side," explained Kooluris to Wired. "My lifestyle was so devoid of the things I grew up with."
Since he still owned his old apartment, he decided to try something absolutely crazy - he decided to transform it into an arcade. Surprisingly enough, his fiancée didn't walk out on him the moment he pitched the idea to her - she actually helped. The room design? Her idea. The authentic gumball machines against the back wall? A Chrismas gift from her.
Unfortunately - as these things often do - Kooluris's obsession with the arcade began to spill over into his personal life. He began to spend more and more time online, talking to members of the KIller List of Videogames community - they shared his obession, and helped him in making the restorations featured in his apartment more authentic. Unfortunately, the more time he spent on the forum - the more time he spent with the arcade - the less time he spent with her.
He realized too late - after six months of work - what he was doing to the two of them. By not talking to her about his project - by trying so hard not to bore her - he ended up alienating her. Eventually, in March, Kooluris's fiancée gave him back his engagement ring.
To add insult to injury, the people on the KLOV forum were becoming increasingly toxic and vehement. Everyone had something negative to say about his project, and very soon, the haters began to outnumber the supporters. They started to do what all bitter forumites do when someone is more successful- they belittled him however they could.
"I've seen your type before," wrote one particularly vile user. "So have a lot of us who have been here for a while. Your self-esteem is tied up in material possessions, your trophies."
This may be a bit off topic, but...I'm always a little disgusted when I see a gaming community alienate someone like this. Where exactly do they get off telling someone that their love for a hobby is "wrong?" Where do they get off acting like Kooluris isn't worthy of their presence?
Because they don't like some of his game preferences?
I don't know. Perhaps there's more to this than meets the eye. Word is he had a fairly abrasive personality on the forums...but then, he wouldn't be the first person to display such traits, would he? Does it really excuse all the hate he got?
I don't think it does.
Thankfully, Kooluris has had a lot more success with his real-world friends. He regularly hosts arcade happy hours and invites people over to play some games. He's even invited some local KLOV members over to play - none have yet accepted.
I've only got one thing to say about this whole thing: this guy turned his apartment into a video arcade. Not only that, he's successful enough that he was able to do it without completely breaking the bank. That's gotta be worth something, and all I know is that if I'm ever in the Manhattan area, I'm gonna hit him up for a few games of Street Fighter (even though I'm awful at it). I hope you guys will all do the same.
Maybe by the time I get the chance to swing by, his pinball collection will be complete.