Gilligan's Island was the first to go. Then Star Wars. Then Time Warp.
"Whatever pinball [machine] we put up there was rented," says Logan Bowden, director of operations at QuarterWorld. "And as soon as the pinball went, they started going after the arcade games."
Until March 16, QuarterWorld was a Southeast Portland arcade specializing in rare pinball. For the past nine days, it was a pinball machine vendor—delivering owner Phil Ragaway's 300-pound machines to homes and apartments across Portland for one-month rentals.
It was a brief pivot: By the time you read this, it's probably over. But it was a pretty glorious idea.
Bowden sees pinball as the perfect tool for social isolation. "What Kate Brown and Ted Wheeler are trying to accomplish, we're trying to do that, too," he says. "Instead of going to the park, work on your pinball leveling up."
Bowden didn't think the experiment was going anywhere for three days. Then an Oregonian feature lit up his email inbox with people willing to pay $150 for one month of pinball in their dens.
QuarterWorld added a $50 fee for every flight of stairs they had to traverse in order to drop the games off. One machine is destined for the third floor of an apartment building. An Attack From Mars game was squeezed into a basement with a half-inch clearance in the doorway.
As many as 100 machines are now in people's homes—a little piece of QuarterWorld in quarantine.
The arcade will collect the machines after a month, but is prepared for the possibility that it won't be able to gather them all if the shutdown continues.
"We're gonna reach out and ask, 'Wanna rent 'em for another month?'" Bowden says.
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