Gutted to hear that The HoG had their gear stolen, I hope they get back on their feet soon. The silver lining to this tragedy is that due to all the media coverage, they've now got much better exposure than before. And with their fundraiser almost complete after just 24 hours, the stolen systems will be able to be replaced extremely soon.
I've never been there and I don't know the people running it.
Any comments on this from those who do?
Having worked closely with The HoG's owner Mark Starkey last year to get the shmup dan76 and I made running in one of their Naomi cabs, I disagree with that negative comment on Eurogamer:
Mark isn't exactly Keiji Inafune when it comes to marketing and making money, but The HoG has been around for several years now and continues to grow in size, with new games and machines being added regularly, so it's clearly turning a profit.
There are certainly ways they could be doing better financially, an obvious one being to have some vending machines so people don't pop down to Tesco for snacks, but it's definitely profitable.
As for “making the communities put on their own events”, The HoG organises regular fighting game tournaments – the “Gutter Trash” 3rd Strike ones being the most popular – so it's not like all the work is done by the community. At the very least, The HoG's staff have to set up all the equipment and clean up afterwards.
I haven't been to any of these events myself, but several of my friends have and they've had nothing but good things to say about them: it sounds like whoever wrote that comment on Eurogamer had an unusually bad experience at one.
Lastly, to speculate that The HoG don't have insurance is ridiculous: nobody is stupid enough to not insure that much equipment. Especially not a gaming enthusiast who knows exactly how much it's worth.