Indianapolis News and Headlines


Tappers: Play retro arcade games and drink beer

Posted at 1:05 PM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 13:28:33-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Aaron Miller has been playing arcade games since he was 4 years old.

Miller and Jeff Moulton can rattle off the names of so many games they've played, it will make your head spin.

But when their new business, Tappers Arcade Bar, finally opened at 501 Virginia Avenue, they weren't playing games. Their customers were.

Miller found out what it was like to share his love of games when he brought a game called Blazing Star to an event to show it off.

"I had people coming up to me all day like 'What is this game?!? What is this thing? I have never played this before. This is so awesome.' I'm like 'Yeah, I know!'" he said. That's a really rewarding feeling, being able to share something that you like with people and letting them discover it on their own time."

Moulton first got the idea for Tappers when he bought a pinball machine three years ago. He and Austin Howard -- the beer guy behind the business -- then joined forces.

They ran an IndieGoGo campaign in 2014 which raised more than $30,000 in two months.

During the campaign, they met Miller, who had been wanting to start a similar business.

"We had other people who had reached out to us and said they were interested in doing an arcade bar or helping out," Moulton said. "Aaron was the one who was serious about it."

They initially thought there would be about 35 games at Tappers. They opened with about 50.

Tappers has the classics -- Asteroids, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Pac-Man -- but keep an eye out for some lesser-known games, like Time Pilot, Wizard of Wor and Zaxxon.

They have a 6-player version of X-Men, so bring your friends, but you can leave the quarters at home.

All the games, except for pinball, will be free to play.

"Jeff and I love games, and we want to be able to share these games with people," Miller said. "We didn't want there to be any type of a barrier of entry -- even a quarter -- to stop people from playing something they'd like."

PHOTOS | See some of the best games at Tappers

Retro arcade games aren't easy to come by. They've been collecting them through eBay, Craigslist and Facebook groups with the goal of filling their bar.

While the games are free, the drinks will cost you money.

Tappers has 12 beers on tap, along with some domestics as a cheaper option, and wine.

The beers on tap:

  • Bell's Two Hearted Ale
  • Bell Oberon
  • Founders All Day IPA
  • Sun King Alrye'd Alrye'd
  • Bier Special K
  • Three Floyds Gumballhead
  • Indiana City Shadow Boxer
  • Daredevil Liftoff
  • Fountain Square Preacher's Daughter
  • Tin Man Damescense
  • Starcut Octorock
  • Country Boy Shotgun Wedding

It took 3 years for Miller, Moulton and Howard to see their dream come true.

Before Tappers opened, they had a test run with family and friends to work out the kinks.

"I couldn't stop smiling," Miller said. "I was getting emotional. It was great. We've been working so hard -- like 12 or 14 hours a day for the last probably six months solid on finishing these games and making sure things are set up. It's been a very arduous, long, drawn-out process and to see it finally come to fruition and to see people in here enjoying the games, drinking the beer -- there was no bad vibe, nobody was in a bad mood. ... To see it actually pay off is a feeling I've never felt before in my entire life."

Tappers Arcade Bar is open from 4 p.m.-midnight on Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, noon-1 a.m. on Saturday and noon-midnight on Sunday.

"Some bars have karaoke, some bars have bands playing, some bars have trivia nights," Miller said. "This is our entertainment. ... This is what us unique and what makes people want to come here is they can play our games for free and enjoy themselves for the cost of a beer or two."

The three owners want to make sure others can play the games they've enjoyed for years. Here is a list of the games at Tappers:

  • Arkanoid
  • Asteroids
  • Baby Pac-Man
  • Blazing Star
  • Burgertime
  • Bust-a-Move
  • Bust-a-Move Again
  • Captain Commando
  • Centipede
  • Dig Dug
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Junior
  • Final Fight
  • Frogger
  • Galaga
  • Galaga '88
  • The House of the Dead
  • Joust
  • King of the Monsters
  • Mario Bros.
  • Marvel vs Capcom 2
  • Metal Slug
  • Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
  • Mortal Kombat II
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • NBA Jam Tournament Edition
  • NFL Blitz '99
  • Outrun
  • Paperboy
  • Pengo
  • Pole Position (cockpit)
  • Popeye
  • Rampage
  • Rolling Thunder
  • The Simpsons
  • Space Invaders
  • Strikers 1945 Plus
  • Super Hang-On
  • Super Off Road: Track Pak
  • Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
  • Tapper
  • Tempest (cocktail)
  • Time Pilot
  • Virtua Cop 2
  • Vs. Castlevania
  • Vs. Super Mario Bros.
  • Wizard of Wor
  • X-Men (6-player)
  • Zaxxon
  • Pinball:
  • Break Shot (Capcom)
  • Diner (Williams)
  • Elvira and the Party Monsters (Bally)
  • Heavy Metal Meltdown (Bally)


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