You could retrofit an old console and emulate the games. That'd be neat.
I had a go at emulations, I got pac man to work great with a xbox controller, just not the joysticks, cause they were in my opinion a bitch to work with.
However, GPIO does open a lot of doors, yet I know nothing about them.
What joystick were you using for it?
I quite like the idea of a arcade machine now, wondering if I can butcher some old parts.
Xbox controller, there is a lot of prebuilt stuff to help with that.
I got the joystick working for the menu to switch to different emulators, but in one of the games it just wouldn't work, there is a way to do it, but it requires rewriting basically every config for every single game you have on there.
However, I am going to learn GPIO and then construct a pac man cabinet.
EDIT: also, to make a cabinet via GPIOs or a Xbox controller, you'd only need an xbox controller or a few buttons and a joystick for GPIO, which you can get for pennies in places.
The most costly part, excluding the Pi itself, is the screen, I have a few laptop screens but they all need LCD controller boards, which can cost a bomb, so instead I've bought a smaller screen with a controller with it, as this is for my media centre.
Nonetheless, you just need a screen (with a controller), a way to control it, and the pi. I would recommend having heatsinks on the pi tho, as it wont itself get harmed by the heat it creates from being on, but if you have paint or stickers, best to keep the heat down.