Miniarcade.com is a video game collection slash museum slash archive website that I built. Design and construction began in the year 1999 but didn't get anything live until early 2000. I had been collecting these little self-contained portable handheld game gadgets since I was a child. I always loved how each game had unique hardware and graphics, as well as software, just like the stand up arcade games. I think it was at the Thunderbird Swap Shop in Sunrise Florida (one of the largest flea markets in America) during the early 1980's where the addiction all started. By the late 1990's I had a amassed a few hundred of them, near-mint condition and in their original boxes, so I decided it would be cool to build a website catalog of them. At the time there was very little information about them on the web as the entrenched retro gaming community was primarily interested in console and computer gaming. However there was an awesome FAQ/list made by Clint Dyer, and some early collector sites most notably Tom Spilliaert's. Most classic gaming enthusiasts during the 1990's didn't think much of these little "kiddie toys" since they were busy with *serious* gaming platforms, emulation, cartridge homebrewing, etc. The snobbery towards these miniature, colorful, isolated, convenient electronic objects perplexed and inspired me. And I was not alone, as other enthusiasts like Jaro Gielens of Electronic Plastic and Rik Morgan of the Handheld Museum began building exhaustive sites at around the same time as Mini Arcade. The tasty Mini Organ collection site by Eric Schneider (designed by Jaro) came not long after. These folks eventually took it to the next level by creating books, sound archives, gallery and museum exhibitions.
In originally planning my site I decided that I would only list the games which I had personally collected and that I would take at least 3 or 4 photographs of each game, including box graphics and screenshots. I do not believe that many retro computing/gaming sites were doing it in this procedural, curatorial manner. Most sites were accumulations of found images, but don't get me wrong... this was and still is a cool way to go! I also provided other information like reviews, comments, trivia, and rarity data. The first batches of photos were taken with a 1 megapixel camera (a floppy drive Sony Mavica oh how I loved you!) and I had no idea how to take decent product shots. All in all, I snapped, edited, and published nearly 1200 photographs. Besides the game archive, I added other features over the years like a store, repair guide, forum, blog, etc. I made all the graphics, wrote all the text... in the end all way sorta amateurish as I had next to zero training in art, design, or content publication.
I am very grateful for the variety of fine people that I met through the website, and for the attention/visits it received. These were good times. I am especially happy that many visitors, in a flash of sentimentality, communicated to me their nearly forgotten childhood joys.