Oversized 1980s-style, public video game to launch in central Christchurch
You dodge potholes on your bike and shoot alien invader traffic cones.
Old-school arcade gaming has been reinvented for Christchurch and writ large on the side of a new central city building
Meet the Super Street Arcade, the latest playful addition to the city centre from Gap Filler, the group that gave Christchurch the popular Dance-O-Mat and the Pallet Pavilion.
On one side of Tuam St, between High and Manchester Sts, will soon sit an oversized black games controller, reminiscent of 1980s gaming consoles, complete with a large joystick and two brightly coloured buttons. On the other side of the street, suspended from the new Vodafone building, is a large LED screen.
The gaming controller on the footpath will operate a video game, specially created by Christchurch company Cerebral Fix, displayed on the large wall-mounted screen. Gap Filler hope to have the new attraction up and running by Thursday afternoon.
Two people are needed to play the game, with one controlling the joystick and the other stamping on the pleasingly oversized buttons.
The game, which mimics the low-fi sound and graphics from iconic 1980s video games, is called Attack of the Cones. It features a cyclist moving down a computerised Tuam St, complete with local landmarks like C1 Espresso, Christ Church Cathedral and local characters like the Wizard of New Zealand and a figure who may be Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Gap Filler co-founder Ryan Reynolds said he wanted to make gaming a social and public experience.
"The Dance-O-Mat is still our most popular project. It encourages people to interact with strangers," he said.
"You can't really play Super Street Arcade on your own; you have to be with friends or hopefully a complete stranger will just hop up and join you.
"The game itself is a spectacle, but the people playing the game are a spectacle too."
The game will remain on Tuam St until the tram tracks are extended up High St, which may be late next year. But Reynolds said he would like the attraction to become a permanent part of the city.
"We're trying to find ways for the fun and community-led principles that we've been exploring in our temporary projects to find a longer-term place in the city," he said.
"This could last much longer than a year and I hope Christchurch people might want it around a lot longer."
The oversized game controller was designed by Pippin Wright-Stow of F3 Design, who wanted to evoke nostalgia for 1980s video-game culture.
"It is based on Atari 1980s games with moulded black plastic and bright red and blue buttons.
"It has a nostalgic feel, all the pixelated graphics and the eight-bit sound. We want to evoke those feelings."
Reynolds said he developed Super Street Arcade with his 70-year-old father in mind.
"I've been thinking what it would take to get him up and playing the game," he said.
"He gets intimidated by new technology, so it is simple with just two buttons."
The games are about two minutes long and are activated if the joystick is moved or the buttons pressed.