Local artists and designers hack electronic components to create a DIY style arcade in New York City.
Babycastles is an arcade where local artists and designers can exhibit their self-assembled video games. Organized by Silent Barn‘s (a NYC performance space) Kunal Gupta and other members, Babycastles is typically set up as a diversion for audience members at musical shows.
Equipped with soldering guns and screwdrivers, game designers tinker with 1-bit computing and primitive controller boards to fabricate a unique gaming experience. Some of these makeshift games are hacked in less than a few hours. An underlying principle for the venue calls for avoiding using the online platform to preserve the socially-collective experience of arcade-style gaming.
Kunal and I talked about why the indie game scene in New York was so important to him, and why he chose to create the Babycastles arcade space. In an age when videogames are more popular than ever, the industry has become increasingly corporatized, making it more and more common for games to be created by massive teams of developers at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Yet it is also easier than ever to produce and distribute indie games made for almost nothing and with a team of just one or two programmers and artists. So why choose to create an arcade instead of just distributing online? Games have always been about the collective experience of playing together with others, and with a captive audience at each Silent Barn show the arcade seemed like the best way to begin to create a culture of game players and developers in NYC.