The following post is from Thomas Fortunato, a freelance writer from U S of A who will be writing the occasional field report for us.
NEW YORK CITY—Babycastles, named for bite-sized Portuguese cakes in Japan, is the city’s first independent video games arcade, has been showcasing indie videogames, large-scale art installations, and local chiptune music at the Showpaper 42nd Street Gallery in Manhattan.
I attended the venue on November 4th with my friend Mox, who invited me to come with her and watch her boyfriend, New York chip musician Zen Albatross, perform at the gallery for the “Heavenly Symphony” event organized as a joint venture between Babycastles and videogame culture shop Attract Mode. Performing with Zen Albatross were chip musicians Nullsleep, and George & Jonathan.
Admission was free to get into Babycastles, although drinks were rather pricey: $5 for a can of beer, and $6 for bottles. If I recall correctly, shots of vodka or whiskey were $1. Behind the bar was quite possibly the most addictive video game at the arcade: the “hug machine.”
The hug machine was an old television set with two buttons for controls, one on each side of the box, causing the player to “hug” the machine by putting one hand on each of the buttons. One button makes the on-screen cursor go up, the other makes it go down, and the player must navigate the cursor through a rapidly scrolling “tunnel” without hitting either the ceiling or the floor. The hug machine had very basic black-and-white graphics reminiscent of Pong or MS Dos.
The rest of the games at the arcade were considerably more artistically inspired, both in regards to the graphics in the games themselves the graffiti- and anime-inspired imagery painted on the physical box that housed the hardware. All the machines were for sale, Mox informed me, with one such game carrying an alleged price tag of $5,000.
Hit up Zen Albatross on Twitter, Nullsleep on Twitter and George and Jonathan on Twitter
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