This week has been incredible for me, with so much wonderful news in the arcade industry (well, maybe not that much), the beginning of my club, and the purchase of my first multicade. That took...forever. Anyway, here's the awesome stuff I've got cooked up at Wilcox Arcade!
Arcade and Retro Gaming Club
Sometime in the beginning of February, an awesome idea hit me. Arcade games are my life, right? Surely, there are other likeminded people out there who would come after school to play these kinds of games, right? So, I started a club: Arcade and Retro Gaming Club.
In all honesty, I mostly added the “and Retro Gaming” to keep it from being so incredibly niche that no one showed up, but I like retro games. (I own an N64 for a reason, ya know.) Besides, a lot of great arcade titles also fall under the “retro” category.
Anyway, since I wanted to start this club, I decided it was time to climb through the bureaucratic junk and do just that. First, I emailed my principle saying that I had “a club idea.” He didn’t respond, so I asked him about it in person. I told him that I’d like to start an Arcade and Retro Gaming Club, and he said that it would work. All that I had to do was write up documentation so that the club could be approved at the next Site-Based Council meeting (the school decision-making group, for those out of the proverbial loop).
With that in mind, I went to prepare my documentation. I tried to think of what we might do beyond huddling around a CRT after school, so a lot of it sounds like some nonsense fantasy I would have. Unfortunately for us, I lost the Word document that had all of this, so I can’t show you exactly what I wrote. Just imagine a bunch of crazy stuff like “We can discuss and analyze the industry using publications such as ArcadeHeroes.com, The Stinger Report, and Play Meter magazine” and “Maybe members of our club will one day enter the industry themselves.” Yeah, it was pretty corny.
I gave my principal the documentation, and he said it looked good. So, is that where the club began? No, I still had a bit more bureaucracy to get through. The Site-Based Council meeting wouldn’t be held until the second Monday in February. Wouldn’t ya know? The first week of February started on January 31st, so my waiting time was much longer than it otherwise would have been. Gosh darn it, calendars.
It wasn’t that I was worried that my club wouldn’t be approved; in fact, I saw literally no reason why they wouldn’t approve it. However, I was a bit too excited for my own good, and I was having a bit of trouble waiting. In the mean time, I created an Instagram account to build up a little “pre-release hype” and I made three or four flyers to hang up in the school to promote the account itself. This didn’t really gain much traction, and it was counting my proverbial chickens or whatever before they hatched (as a wise classmate once told me). Because of this, I dissolved the account a few days ago and renamed it Wilcox Arcade (@wilcoxarcade). It now coexists along with the blog, which is cool. I also have a Twitter account now!
Also during this time, I approached a potential sponsor: Coach Fricke, one of the two P.E. teachers. He said yes as soon as I asked, and I had a club sponsor booked weeks in advance.
After two long weeks of waiting, I got the news that my club was approved. Boy, was I excited! It was finally time for my sweaty nerd club to grace the Earth with its perspiring glory.
With that suspense out of the way, I started producing actual promotional material. The meetings are on Mondays, but guess what? The first Monday that I could have had it was Presidents’ Day! (No offense, presidents, but you kind of messed up my schedule.) Therefore, another long week was tacked on to my wait time for the first meeting. To remedy this, I made a very general flyer, and I put it nearly everywhere that I possibly could in the school.
However, the week before the first meeting (the week of Presidents’ Day), I started doing hardcore promotion for the club. I produced a flyer that actually said the date of the first meeting. Also, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday, I made some pretty gosh darn…attention-grabbing announcements. On Wednesday, I started my morning announcement by blaring the Galaga intro theme—which was so loud that it actually scared people. THAT is how you promote a club, people! (Unfortunately, few people could actually hear my voice, because I didn’t stand close enough to the microphone.)
Thursday wasn’t quite as…exciting, but it still got a good reaction. I used the Pac-Man intro and stood much closer to the microphone. On Friday, I used the Cruis’n USA main theme before my announcement. I’m going to assume that that one wasn’t quite as well known as Galaga and Pac-Man, just because it isn’t really an iconic video game theme or anything.
Thus, I was stuck with a weekend of waiting. Luckily for me, the wait wasn’t too difficult. Why, you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t ask; it’s cool.) Well, let’s just say that you’ll see just why the wait wasn’t so bad when you get to the end of the article. (Wink, but typed, because this is written text.)
Now we find ourselves in the present—today. Monday, February 27th was the big day, the first meeting! I made a quick announcement with the Xevious theme, and from there, it was waiting. The excitement was almost indescribable.
After school, I went to the gym classroom to wait for everyone to show up. I had brought my Nintendo 64 with two controllers and six games (Killer Instinct, NFL Blitz, Cruis’n USA, California Speed, Robotron 64, and Namco Museum 64). Joseph Ngyuen, a good friend of mine, brought his PSOne (he had the actual “PSOne” Sony released later in the PSX’s lifetime) with his entire game collection in a CD book.
Then, everyone started coming in. I was positively SHOCKED to see 16 people, more than I could have ever hoped for. Granted, I’m guessing at least six won’t show up for the next meeting, but that’s still a fantastic turnout.
Today, we played Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha, and it was a blast. We set up a tournament, which is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping this club could provide. Unfortunately for me, I was out in my first match, but it was just so much fun to see everyone having fun playing retro games. Joseph won the tournament, and he played Coach Fricke. (That sweaty nerd Joseph has all of the combos memorized.) Joseph won again, and since we only had 12 minutes left, he put in Contra: Legacy of War. He had me play with him, and we were dead within 5 minutes.
Overall, it was really great to see the retro gaming community at my school. Things weren’t as organized as I would have hoped, but it all worked out in the end. Next Monday, Joseph and I will try to have an introduction where we talk about the T-shirts and the trip to the Game Galaxy arcade. Jospeh is going to bring a portable TV with him next week, and I’m going to try to pick up a second CRT dirt-cheap to give to the club. We’re also going to split the costs of a Retron 5 to donate to the club.
The Arcade and Retro Gaming Club was simply fantastic, and to any students reading, I highly recommend you try to start one at your school. There’s really nothing better than a good community. And once you start one, you'll get to experience the joy of jumping around TV playing games with a bunch of cool people every week, because it's truly something else. Anyway, now that I’ve told you about the Arcade and Retro Gaming Club, let me tell you the news that made the weekend before the club that much more bearable…
Skycurser release date announced
If you’re not quite caught up with the news, Skycurser (developed by Griffin Aerotech) is a new arcade-exclusive shoot-em-up designed to resemble classic 90’s games in both the pixel art and the gratuitous violence. So far, the prototype version is in quite a few arcades across the U.S., and everyone seems to like it.
In a February 23rd podcast, the guys at Griffin Aerotech dropped the news that I’ve been dying to hear for a long time: the Skycurser release date. The wait will finally be over on April 3rd, when we can all pick up a Skycurser cabinet for home or (preferably) public arcade use. Griffin Aerotech has been promoted the podcast as a way for people to learn the release date, but I kind of ruined that by just telling you upfront. I still highly recommend that you listen to the podcast, because it’s still a blast even if you already know the release date going in. There’s a funny personal story, a bit of information on Mission 4, and they answer some fan questions. I have already given my thoughts on Skycurser in my Arcade Hype List, but I’d like to expand on that a bit.
In the podcast, the guys talk about how the Airframe dev kit will be available to those who would like to develop games under the Griffin Aerotech banner. First, it will be available in a virtual environment, and once there’s enough of a game to justify it, people can use the actual Airframe dev kit (at least that’s what I gathered). I mention this because having a unified system like this seems like an absolutely fantastic way to get more indie developers into the arcade, and thusly increasing the number of games released annually and bringing back hardcore gamers who are disillusioned with the flood of rail shooters and racing games. Don’t get me wrong—I love rail shooters (but I’m getting a bit tired of racing). However, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have a wide variety of genres. Luckily, we now have Killer Queen, Skycurser, and Strike Harbinger broadening our horizons a bit. Heck, Raw Thrills is even going to location test Resogun! If all goes well, that’ll be the first twin-stick shooter we’ve had in years!
Table Pong Project
Pong, as we all know, was one of the first video games ever, and certainly one of the most historically significant. Now, a team of developers is bringing it back as a tabletop version that (instead of a standard monitor) uses electric motors and magnetic fields to provide a physical version of Pong. It’s officially licensed by Atari, and there will be a coin-operated version.
Right now, there’s an Indiegogo page, and I hope it gets as much support as it possibly can. I love the concept, and any new arcade game is a great thing on its own. I plan on supporting the crowdfunding campaign as soon as possible, but it’s a little bit difficult as a 15-year-old (and I’m also saving up for my first dedicated arcade game). As such, I do not believe I’ll be able to give the campaign $900 and get the table at a discounted price, but I definitely plan on buying it as soon as it officially releases.
I do hope the developers make the table durable enough to survive commercial use, as that’s my one concern. Something like this, as cool as it is, could be a bit maintenance-heavy when in a real arcade setting. No matter what my doubts may be, I 100 percent trust that it’ll be a great product, and I want to support it.
Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like arcades are making a real comeback. Arcades never truly died, but we have to acknowledge the decline. This decline does, however, have one positive side effect: We get to the see the comeback that much more clearly.
Table Pong Project
Website - https://www.tablepongproject.com
Indiegogo - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/atari-table-pong-project-the-coolest-coffee-table-design#/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TABLEPONGPROJECT/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/TablePongProjec
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/tablepongproject/
Podcast - http://www.griffinaerotech.com/category/arcade-game-developer-podcast/
Website - http://www.griffinaerotech.com/skycurser/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SKYCURSER
Twitter - https://twitter.com/SKYCURSER
Tumblr - http://tumblr.skycurser.com
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/skycurser/