ARCADE 11’s third incarnation took place on the 11th floor of EV during Montréal Joue from the 2nd to the 4th of March, and I’m here to tell you about it.
For one thing, the event went almost eerily smoothly in terms of planning and and installation thanks to the excellent team we had cooperating and being flexible at all the right times. The central organising team of Gina Haraszti, Prem Sooriyakumar, Will Robinson, Benjamin Gattet, and myself got things rolling, chose games, booked equipment, planned layouts and more. We were then joined by a very enthusiastic and effective team of volunteers to actually put the arcade together, run it, and take it down again each day. I may have simply been shielded from certain things, but other than the Arcade Royale suffering some grievous joystick injuries, everything seemed to go swimmingly. We even got some media attention for the event when the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet technology team came along to check out the experimental games for their show – look ma, we were on TV!
The focus of the arcade this year was on local multiplayer games from around the world with an experimental twist. We had games from Poland, South Africa, Australia, Canada, the United States, Argentina, and the Netherlands, and each had its special charms. Whether it was the frenetic footwork of Sos Soskowski’s Stomp It Up or the austere but fiercely competitive racing of Chalo Chalo (Tomasz Kaye and Richard Boeser), attendees gathered around both to play and to watch.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Steel Crate Games) drew people closer together in the heart of VR peril (and hopefully didn’t end any relationships). Criquette (Evan Greenwood and Jason Sutherland) mystified everyone with its bizarre physics and unpredictable rules, proving once again that nobody really understands cricket. Panoramical (Fernando Ramallo and David Kanaga) drew people in with its promise of journeying through strange sound and landscapes. The Arcade Royale (Mount Royal Game Society) was, as ever, a huge draw for everyone, and showed off local talent the way only it can.
A star of the show was Parcade, created by local makers Thomas and Jérémie Gauthier-Caron – two bright red seesaws on the 11th floor of a building being used to play the arcade classic Pong. One small-scale patron of the game was heard to exclaim: “That was SO MUCH FUN!” Just as physical in another way, Push Me Pull You (House House) had players sharing controllers to control what can only described as adorable and unsettling worm people in a futuristic ball sport. Rounding out the overtly physical games, Elbow Room (Deep Dark Hole) showed everyone you don’t need anything more that a single keyboard to create an intense and competitive 40-something player game, and play we did!
Meanwhile, Jessica Blanchette was running what were perhaps the hidden gems of the arcade – a button making station and an incredible electronic greeting-card making workshop for kids. Some of the buttons made over those days are true things of beauty – I hope you managed to get one.
Overall ARCADE 11 felt like a big success most of all because the people there, from attendees to volunteers to organisers, were clearly having fun. And that’s the name of the game, after all.