Sometimes, a regular coffee table just won’t do. If you’re a gaming enthusiast like many of us are at The Manual, you’ll probably be as stoked as we were to discover Surface Tension, a UK-creative firm crafting arcade tables.
The concept is pretty neat: They take a standard, everyday coffee table and insert the mechanical and electrical interiors necessary to turn it into a plug-and-play arcade game.
These tables are available in a few different options. The Dual model comes with 60 preloaded games ideal for one-on-one competition. It replicates the old vintage setup with a screen flip that moves to either side of the table, so both players share one viewing experience. (Plus, the walnut veneer and glass sides remind us of those old-school ’90s games at the pizza parlor.)
The Nucleus is the granddaddy of functional arcade tables with plenty of games and the ability to install your own. You can also plug in an HDMI cable and stream from your favorite video service.
The arcade tables’ classic styling make them a great addition to any living room or the most epic of additions to a modern man cave. When not in use, the control panel hides away so your friends won’t get too jealous (they’ll think you just have a regular coffee table). When you’re ready to unveil the surprise, the panel opens to reveal an assortment of buttons and levers.
Surface Tension also takes the same approach to recreating traditional upright game cabinets — the ones we all know and love from the arcades of yesteryear. The Retrograde model builds on that with a modern sound system and similar connections to stream music and video after gameplay is done. The company also offers “pre-loved” models, functional Rubik’s Cube storage tables, and other game-themed accessories.
All of Surface Tension models are available online.