After three days crammed full of video games, board games, button making, 3-D printing and a whole lot of fun, Arcade 11 has shut its doors and its organizers and volunteers can catch up on some well-deserved rest and recuperation. It was completely mind-boggling that so many people came to see the TAG lab show off the many projects and people that it is involved with, and explore a space where people were able to see the more experimental side of game development. As an undergraduate student, it’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming exhausted by a topic you used to have such passion for, and Arcade 11 helped remind me of the reasons why I wanted to study and create games. Too easily the many articles, lectures and essays about game theory can stay on my mind now when I sit down to play or try to come up with game ideas, and it was refreshing to see breakdancing sausages and volleyball Kung-Fu masters be used for the simplest but most important reason: to have fun. Throughout the three days it was incredible to hand over the controls (literally!) to children, gamers, and self-professed non-gamers and see them puzzle out these new methods of interaction. The Oculus Rift caused quite a sensation with the wanton destruction caused by Dumpy the elephants jailbreak from the circus, and every now and again my discussion with people visiting the show would be interrupted by ungodly (albeit hilarious) noises coming from the Bizarro controller room.
What was incredible for me to see was the improvisation that people adopted to try and figure out how these experimental games worked. One child was convinced that there was one jewel per player in Game Game Videogame that we had to find, and another began speaking to the monster he was controlling through the Bizarro audio controller, asking him why he wasn’t doing what he was telling him to do. While the small children fearlessly engaged with the games and explored the modded Minecraft server, what really affected me was the interest of the parents as to what their children were passionate about and ready to encourage them as much as possible. Coming from a family that was not the fondest of video games, seeing these parents who professed they were not gamers take notes about the TAG lab, Concordia programs, workshops and software their children could use to start making games was very touching.
I think that the best thing Arcade 11 did was provide a space for those questions to be raised and allow people who would never go of their own accord see the ‘other’ side of gaming that’s not all FPSs and RPGs. 80 year old grandparents would try on the Oculus Rift right after their seven year old grandsons, and small two year olds were learning about themselves using this one weird worm. I think this was the reason why we were so exhausted by the end of the event, I cannot speak for the other volunteers, but having a permanent grin on my own face for three whole days can certainly wear a person out.
For more photos visit flickr.com/photos/taglab/