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Coin-op Legend Bill Cravens Passes Away

Longtime arcade game retailer Bill Cravens, who worked for or distributed games for such companies as Capcom, Nintendo, Cinematronics, and Universal, has passed away in his sleep on March 29, during the Amusement Showcase International show in Las Vegas.

Brandon Sheffield, Contributor

April 18, 2007

2 Min Read

Born in 1942, Bill Cravens, was a leader in the arcade and coin-op industry for many years, weathering a number of industry slumps. He passed away in his sleep on March 29, during the Amusement Showcase International show in Las Vegas. A longtime arcade game retailer, Cravens sold some of the very first pong games, and would go on to distribute games such as Mr. Do, Super Punch Out, Final Fight, Street Fighter and Golden Tee 3D, according to his son Ryan Cravens, senior marketing manager of arcade distributor Betson Enterprises. The companies Bill worked for or distributed include Capcom, Nintendo, Cinematronics, Universal, Pacific Novelty, uWink, Incredible Technologies, Bromley, Team Play, and Wurlitzer. He is survived by his wife Marylin, daughter-in-law Alicia, and two sons, Ryan and Todd, who both work for Betson, which currently distributes titles for Eugene Jarvis' company Raw Thrills (Need for Speed), among others. Bill Cravens was involved in the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA) and at one time served as president of its charitable branch, the American Amusement Machine Charitable Foundation. Todd Cravens shared some heartfelt words with RePlay Magazine and the AAMA. "I would like to thank the members of the industry for their outpouring of support over the passing of my father," said Cravens, on his experience at the final days of the ASI show. "My mother, brother, Ryan and I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to our family. I am truly humbled by the sheer amount of people that cared for my father. I believe the reason my father loved this industry so much was evident today," he added. "He always felt that regardless of company or competitor people genuinely care for one another in this business. That was true today."

Ryan Cravens mentions that his father's name is painted in the background of a Street Fighter stage, such was his connection to the industry. "In the arcade industry, the names that are famous amongst the players are Jarvis, Suzuki, Okamoto and more. Very rarely do you hear the names of the people that sell the games and get them out to the bars and arcades," says Ryan Cravens on his father's legacy. "He was much more than an oddity in a video game. He is an icon of the industry that helped bring the industry back after the arcade crash of the early 80s and the slump in the 90s. "Bill Cravens passed away in his sleep on March 29th, 2007 and I already miss the man that helped foster my love for video games and life." The AAMCF and AAMA are working together to gather funds for a memorial donation in Bill's name, to be used towards diabetes research. Donations can be made payable to the AAMCF and sent to AAMA headquarters at 450 E. Higgins Road, Suite 201, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007.

About the Author(s)

Brandon Sheffield


Brandon Sheffield is creative director of Necrosoft Games, former editor of Game Developer magazine and gamasutra.com, and advisor for GDC, DICE, and other conferences. He frequently participates in game charity bundles and events.

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