CSU break-in may lead to loss of arcade games forever

Beaming, George Villiavicencio hops up off the CSU lounge table to show off his high score on the classic Atari Tetris machine. Sure enough, the record 990,907 belongs to his initialed alias, GVA.

Moments later, after a brief phone discussion with his wife, he determines that the Tetris machine will probably find its new home at their house. “Tetris is our baby,” he explains, launching into a story about how their fierce competition over the game led to a lifelong bond.

Along with Tetris, the three other arcade machines have been a feature of the Capilano Students Union (CSU) lounge for several years. Their days may be numbered, though, due to a recent break-in sometime between September 25 and October 6. The clasps of the machines were broken open with a crowbar, and the locks sheared, amounting to approximately $1100 worth of damage.

After numerous previous break-ins and repairs, there is no money left to repair the games. Combined with recent safety concerns dictating that the machines must be anchored to the wall in case of an earthquake, George has determined that he “can't deal with the hassle anymore.”

George, who is a librarian at Capilano University, and his business partner, both of whom are long-time game enthusiasts, brought the machines into the CSU. Capilano had never had arcade games before, and they took the opportunity to share their passion with the students. As per their agreement, half the profits from the machines go directly to the CSU, and the other half of the money is put into a contingency fund for repairs, which has been depleted on numerous occasions.

The games have never been a profit making venture, at their busiest period only drawing in about $65 in one month. Occasionally after emptying the machines, “we give away free games for the love of it,” George explains. When students do have to pay, a quarter buys at least two plays.

The perpetrators who broke into the machines most recently would only have been able to pocket several dollars from the machines, leaving George to speculate that they were unable to even cover recover the cost of the crowbar and bolt cutters.

There are no security measures besides the general CSU lounge procedures taken to protect the machines. The locks have been improved over time, though evidently to no avail.

When contacted by the Courier, one Security guard was unfamiliar with the incident, and employees who did have information were unable to respond to questions before deadline.

Since the last break-in, George is prepared to sell the games to the CSU, thereby handing the responsibility over, otherwise they will likely end up on Craigslist.

Though no official proposal has been brought to the CSU, Services Coordinator Sarah Silvester stated that they might consider purchasing the games – but the Executive Board would have to vote on the matter.

The current games include Tetris, Rampage, Soulcalibur, and Marvel Super Heroes. In the past, Black Tiger and Street Fighter have also been in the lounge. George had tentative plans to eventually turn at least one of the machines into a multi-game box.

“Blood, sweat and tears have gone into these games,” says George, “I'd love to see them stay.”

// Natalie Corbo

News Editor

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