Like many kids born in the ’80s, Jose Ruiz was introduced to video games through the last gasps of the arcade industry. As console and PC gaming all but killed the industry during the mid ’90s, he never lost his passion for joysticks, button pads and pockets full of change.
“I’ve always loved video games, and when I was young, arcade games are what I could afford,” Jose Ruiz said. “When I first met my wife, I told her I always wanted to open an arcade.”
On April 27, he fulfilled that dream by opening Wreck It Ruiz Arcade and Pinball, 1622 Grand Ave.
Located between O’Dwyers Public House and Black Kilt Deli, the video game parlor offers patrons a slew of rare arcade games like “Mister Viking,” “Star Castle” and “Skull & Crossbones” as well as some favorites such as “Mortal Kombat II,” “Ms. Pac-Man” and “The Simpsons.”
Additionally, the Ruizes’ business partner specializes in pinball machines, so the arcade boasts a selection of old and new pinball games. The arcade does not serve alcohol.
The whole venture started with a single arcade game several years ago.
“I was looking at (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and how much that game cost — it was super expensive,” the 35-year-old said. “So, I did some more digging and found a place that built them custom. I pulled the trigger on buying one, but that machine had issues.”
Instead of sending it back to the company, Jose Ruiz decided to fix it himself, and it wasn’t long before his friends took notice of his new hobby.
“I had a friend ask me to build him a custom arcade, and I said, ‘I don’t know,’” he said. “He offered to give me the money to try, so I was upfront and told him I would, but if it didn’t work he was out the money.”
The friend took the risk, and Jose Ruiz discovered he had a knack for repairing the outdated machines. After a time, his collection grew, and he founded Wreck It Ruiz Custom Arcades in Cheyenne.
When his wife, Hayley Ruiz, announced their family would soon be adding an additional player, Jose Ruiz started thinking about how he could share his love for arcade games with the growing family.
“Me being a father is what helped drive me to this business venture,” he said. “My goal is to attract other parents. People my age grew up with this, and we want to pass these memories down to our kids.”
Hayley Ruiz was more of a reader…