Play games with your heart

By Amy Barger - Contributing Columnist

I have always loved playing games for as long as I can remember; be it chess, pinball, Pac-Man, or just simply playing peek-a-boo with my niece. My love for game-playing is all thanks to my Dad.

When I was younger, Dad had the family participate in game nights at least one day a week, playing either card games or board games. Some of our favorites were The Game of Life, Uno, chess, and Monopoly, to give you an idea. We would play for hours onto the late night, just laughing and pointing fingers at the person who moved too many spaces on the board.

There is more that goes on while playing a game than just passing the time; you are associating positive feelings and memories with your family through game-playing. The more you do it, the less you want to do anything else after a long work day. I know when Dad and my step-mom, Tammy, would come home after a long day of work, that was their release.

My Dad just instantly changed in emotion when he was with his family on game nights. The moment before playing, you could tell he had a stressful day but as we started playing, it was like he never known a stressful day in his life. He would laugh, he would go to the kitchen to make homemade popcorn for us, or most commonly, he will give some kind of fact on the game we were playing.

My favorite game nights with my dad and sisters were when we played the board game called Vampire Hunter. In the center of the board, Dracula’s castle lights up blue and red; blue for day, red for night. Each light would illuminate the board in a different way. The blue light may reveal a space on the board that allows you to advance while in the red light, the space asks you to move back two spaces and attack a monster.

Those nights were spooky, yet fun. Dad would read his “chance” cards in an ominous voice and look at us creepy then laugh as the red light illuminated has face. My oldest sister and I would try to sneak a tap on the shoulder and make each other scream and jump. Really one of my most fondest of memories with my family.

Because the kids got older and some of us moving away, we no longer have game nights, unless everyone is home and not busy working odd hours; which is far and few in between, sadly. But Dad has found a way to keep his foot in the game world.

Dad, known to everyone else as Doug Barger, owns his own pinball repair shop in Wayne Lakes, Greenville by the name of Doug’s Pinball. He has opened this shop over five years ago when he realized he has a rare ability to fix vintage pinball machines, dating as far back as the 1930’s. His business has grown, traveling to as far as Columbus doing repair services for COSI.

Being his favorite daughter (let’s see how soon I get flack on this from my two sisters), I got access to the pinball machines he repaired and got to test them to see if everything was in working condition (okay, I can’t lie, the other sisters did too). Playing a pinball machine is unlike playing pinball on the computer; sure you do the same thing, but it’s all about the experience. Hearing the ball being released into the play field, feeling the buttons to the flippers and watching them move, or seeing the machine light up when you hit for bonus points are all things you will not feel through a screen.

Dad has a pretty big dream, and has had this dream for years now; he would like to own his own arcade in downtown Greenville. Having growing up with a family who found fulfillment by interacting with each other through game-playing, he wants other families to experience that same joy. Knowing my Dad, seeing others happy makes him really happy.

He has started a Go-Fund-Me page online, hoping to reach $25,000 by this time next year. If funding allows, Dad would like to install 60 arcade machines in an non-alcoholic venue and offer a concession stand that would offer food and drinks. What would make this arcade different than most is only having to pay a cover cost, granting unlimited play with the machines.

Whether you have family in Greenville that you visit or are a resident, he wants it to be a place in Greenville that all can enjoy while visiting downtown; a place where everyone can be forever young and create wonderful memories with their family through game-playing, just like our family has.

Donations can be made to his Go-Fund-Me account online at His website for his pinball repair business is at If you would like to get to know my father more and about his dream, he can be reached at (937) 564-0179 or email,

By Amy Barger

Contributing Columnist