As I begin to recount the ‘year of undocumented projects’, what better place to start than with POWERBOAT ITALIA ’88, the button-mashing 4-player arcade extravaganza manifest in DIY arcade cabinet form with help from Mark Kleback as part of Death by Audio Arcade. Although the gameplay of Powerboat is simple, winning consistently is not without nuance and strategy; a defensive player can conserve wrist strength by coasting a bit while in the lead and focusing on blocking other players, for instance.
There’s something immensely satisfying about seeing strangers play your game in person, together—something only the arcade cabinet form can really provide. It’s a concentrated shot of free user testing and a chance to see how the game can facilitate social interactions. It’s also nice to hear people explain the game to each other, freeing me of that awkward burden. I got the chance for all the aforementioned and more as the Death by Audio Arcade appeared at the lwlvl festival (prounounced ‘low level’) in Brooklyn this month. It was also awesome to see 7 indie arcade cabinets together—their powers combined! If a series of best practices could be developed to keep the rag tag bunch running consistently, it would be great to see more full-time indie arcades sprout up. I’ll have to get that coin door installed.
One of these days I’ll get around to chronicling the actual build (it’s amazing how hardy some plywood, acrylic, and surplus arcade parts can be!) as well as trying to port the game to a place where more can play it. (But where?? iPad/tablet? Amazon Fire TV? Steam?) For now, if you’re in the New York area, keep on the lookout for Death by Audio Arcade events!