Archive for Places and Events

Daily Linksplosion: Thursday, June 17, 2010

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The man behind the gears: Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

I live in the Metro Detroit area. It isn’t particularly well known as being a mecca of gaming, but we do have one of the finest, and weirdest, homages to gaming’s past within our lands.

San Franciscans have the Musee Mechanique.

We have Marvin’s.

The following is an interview I did with the business’s proprietor back in 2007. I wrote an article about it, but wasn’t writing for anything covering the beat. Having just found the article, however, I’ve touched it up a bit and provide to you the story of this odd little place tucked away in the suburbs of Farmington Hills.

Marvin Yagoda is a busy man.

Dressed in an off-white shirt and suspenders, Yagoda is moving all over the place as children and adults both crowd his workplace, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

“I’ve got three birthday parties today,” he tells me. He is working on a small television displaying the tale of the world’s tallest man.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tour Michael Jackson’s game collection

Last February, Julien’s Auctions announced the sale of Michael Jackson’s sizable arcade game collection, to be auctioned piecemeal. Though the auction was eventually canceled, Jackson agreed to a continued exhibit of his game collection at Julien’s Beverly Hills location.

mjarcade

Now you can virtually stroll through Julien’s arcade exhibit, as photographed in April. Take your time with it, too—it’s absolutely heavenly. I don’t know what this says about me, but it’s very much the place I dreamt of as a kid. I wish there were photos of the arcade as it stood at Neverland, before the ranch was all but vacated.

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E3 2009: I need to catch up

I was not in LA or at my laptop very much (or at all) today. As such, I know nearly nothing about E3 Day One.

I was able, however, to skim the headlines:

monkeyisland
metroidotherm

Um, ‘OH NO!!’ is a gossip blog that just accidentally slipped into my RSS feeds somehow

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Mishka’s custom Street Fighter cabinet

I’m in a rush—why am I up! Why am I on my laptop, even?—so I’ll let Chris Person, who has been tearing up NYC to find the perfect T-shirt, do the talking. He writes,

Aside from hitting up UNIQLO Friday for Phoenix Wright shirt goodness, I actually went to check out the newly opened storefront for the fitted-hat and stylish streetwear aficionados at Mishka. Lo and behold, what did they have there? Oh nothing, just some cool clothes and the most awesome-ist custom-painted Street Fighter II cabinet ever, set to free play.

streetfighter

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Vintage arcade celebrates midcentury marvels

racinggames

handhelds

Beacon, New York’s Retro Arcade Museum opened its doors late last month. There, and for just $10 an hour, visitors can play curator Fred Bobrow’s collection of vintage pinball and arcade cabinets from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

I suspect the handheld collection isn’t playable—as it’s behind glass—but, uh, it never hurts to ask? :(

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This is what we’re going to next week

So Adam of Attractmo.de, curator of Game Over: Continue, was in town to work on the upcoming gallery show.

“Did you go to the first one?” Adam asked me.

“N-no…” I admitted. “But! That’s why I’m definitely coming to this one. Guilt!”

game-over-continue

Game Over: Continue opens at GRSF on March 27. Check out the list—there’s art from trailblazers like CUPCO, Jeremyville, and Bigfoot. Plus, four special game/art installations will be playable in-store.

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Spain gets its videojuegos on


LAN party at the cinematheque!

Taking residence in a movie theater (this theater, actually), Madrid’s Cinegames combines the flair of Captain EO with the special effects of Alien Encounter. Lights flash and adjust to match the action on screen. “Then we have the smoke,” explains developer Enrique Martínez. “If there are accidents or a car burns rubber, smoke appears.”

The result: a distinctly theatrical, shared experience among gamers who might ordinarily stay home. Yes, please.

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Classic Gaming Expo DVD finally coming

For fans of retro games, the Classic Gaming Expo holds a certain allure. Ever since its founding in 1997 as the World of Atari expo, CGE has attracted guests from varying eras of the video game industry, including Steve Wozniak, Al Alcorn, Ralph Baer, and Rob Fulop. Collectors, exhibitors (who have ranged from Konami to Retro Zone), and video game enthusiasts the world over annually congregate for the event. Unfortunately, the 2008 show was canceled due to the inability of its organizers—Joe Santulli, Sean Kelly, and John Hardie—to find a venue, and it looks as if the 2009 show, too, has been canceled for as-yet-undisclosed reasons.

Therefore anyone curious about the expo might also be interested in the CGE 2007 DVD box set, which is finally available for preorder after spending roughly a year in editing. As someone who was there in 2007 (and in 2004), I can honestly say it was one of the most entertaining conventions I’ve ever been to. Standing around chatting with Keith Robinson from Intellivision about a Burgertime movie a few of my friends made, to playing actual Pong and Computer Space arcade machines, to visiting the museum: it was just an excellent time. This DVD box set may well be the closest anyone gets to recreating that feeling, at least for a while!

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Something fun we can go to next weekend

...if you live here in the Bay Area, I mean. And I totally understand if you’re busy. But if you are anywhere near the Haight on Saturday night, you could pop on by Giant Robot—the one here in San Francisco, not the hip LA one—and check out art by heavy-hitting art bigwigs (David Horvath) and unsung heroes (Martin Cendreda). I mean, only if you’re up for it.

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Happy first anniversary to The Hacktory

I’m kind of loving Philadelphia lately. I love Geekadelphia, from whom I have borrowed liberally (shout-out to Eric!). I love the lads at Gamervision. I love the Liberty Bell and all it represents, which is liberty. And then there’s the VGXPO, which is something that is also in Philadelphia.

And now I am completely in love with The Hacktory.

While I was questing through current.com in search of the Gaymers video, I came across “Geeks and Toys Go Wild,” a viewer-created video of a Hacktory-sponsored event. The tiny DIY fest is so rough-around-the-edges and charming, just magical LEDs and chip music and, probably, alcohol. The Hactory video at Current may never make it all the way to TV, so—for now at least—you’ll have to check it out online, either here or embedded here:

I feel like there is this incredible nerd culture in Philadelphia that the rest of humanity doesn’t know about. Specifically, the goings-on at The Hacktory—classes on how to design circuit boards, or events with chiptune musicians dimly lit by demoscene graphics—remind me, bittersweetly, of the art collective gatherings and events that so captured my imagination when I was some college kid having her first brush with adulthood in her first real city. These community events were sincere, earnest, and wholly unmarketable. They were, to quote the Philadelphia Weekly, “Authentic Geek.”

Incidentally, The Hacktory turns one year old this month, hence the illustration of a layer-cake with LEDs that I am ‘borrowing’ from their blog.

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Used and retro video game store opens its doors in San Francisco

I live in San Francisco. Recently, I was walking to the grocery store to buy some avocados, when suddenly I saw a giant sandwich board advertising something called “Star Games.”

That seemed new. I looked around. I didn’t see any game stores anywhere. Also, the last time a sign lured me into a “game store,” it had turned out to be one of those D&D hangout places. I’d marched right in with palpable confidence and decisiveness, and then I’d suddenly stopped just inside the door, completely frozen in place as I stared at shelves full of rulebooks. Then I realized all the preteens at the back table had stopped playing—now, they were staring at me in silent horror. And then I went, “Oh,” and slunk out miserably… not because I dislike tabletop gaming, mind, but oh boy do I dislike being sheepish in front of preteens.

Anyway. I walked past Star Games again on Friday. This time I was on my way to the Ninjatown DS Sneak Peek at Double Punch. But there Star Games was, cozily glowing in the dusk, just like a cottage in a Thomas Kinkade painting. I was already late to Double Punch, though, so I hurried past.

And though I’ve never actually walked into the store, I’m already really fascinated by Star Games: I have never seen an independent videogame store in San Francisco before.

Sure, I’ve been to retro and import game stores in New York City and in Chicago. I’ve heard of mythical game stores in New Jersey and Seattle. Even Corpus Christi, Texas, has Play Again.

I’ve also heard a pretty believable rumor that one of the Bay Area EBs or GameStops does more business than any other franchised game store in the United States—a credible claim, because our area is chock-full of video game developers, PR, journalists, bloggers, publishing companies, tech industry people, and… well, you know, gamers. Since there’s such a huge, well-informed (and generally well-paid) crowd of gamers here, why hasn’t San Francisco had any notable import game stores up until now? Or, if we ever did, why do they all close down? Isn’t this a primo market for that niche?

I’ve long held a theory about import stores, and it is this: many of those stores manage to scrape by and stay open by not selling their inventory. If a store has valuable retro and import games—WonderSwans still in their packaging, for instance, and unopened Zelda CD-i games—those shelves full of priceless, unsold relics turn the establishment into a kind of museum, into a beautiful paean to dusty basements and wasted Saturday mornings. What, then, will Star Games’ shelves look like after everyone in San Francisco has taken off with their HoneyBees?

Location, location, location: I am already worried for Star Games because the store is in an accessible location. The game store in Chicago is clever because it is so geographically inaccessible—so, by the time you’ve finally geared up for a weekend trip to the store, you’re only too happy to blow all your money.

But I am a loving pessimist. Star Games, the Bay Area is ready to love you. You will be the one to turn the tide. You will be the greatest game store to ever open its doors in San Francisco.

Star Games has been open for just over a month. I will visit sometime this week and return with a full report.

Star Games
1657 Powell St., between Green St. & Union
San Francisco
(415) 398-4766

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Make a 3D video game, dance at the afterparty

Gamma 3D flier art

Who’s flying me to Montreal in November? Anyone?

At long last, the fine minds at Kokoromi have announced the Where, the When, and the What of the third annual GAMMA showcase.

Presented in collaboration with the Society for Arts and Technology and the Montreal International Game Summit, the event will be held on November 19th, At the SAT, in Montreal.

Developers around the world have until October 15th to submit their games. Kokoromi will announce the chosen games on November 1st.

And as with every GAMMA event, this one culminates in a great big art show game party with everybody wearing 3D glasses.


This year’s theme is stereoscopy; entrants are required to make their games compatible with red and blue -lensed glasses. (According to the official rules page, exceptions will be made for hacked Virtual Boys, however.)

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LittleBigPlanet Character Creation Competition

Don’t Panic, in association with Sony, has launched the LittleBigPlanet Character Creation Competition!

Sackboy ‘Chinese Opera’ design by jetoaster

In this contest, entrants create designs for the game’s Sackboy and Sackgirl characters. To compete, simply download a Sackboy template, doodle on top of it, and submit! Not only will the prizewinner receive a PS3 and a copy of the game, he can also look forward to limited fame and moderate notoriety: the winning character design will be included in Sony’s UK marketing blitz.

Maybe more thrillingly, Vinyl Abuse has announced they will turn their own favorite entry into a limited-edition six-inch figure.

The top ten entries will be determined by user votes; from there, the winning entry will be decided by Don’t Panic’s judges. So even the artistically disinclined can participate in the competition by voting. The competition closes on August 4, so hurry!

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Boozing in the arcade

So according to Gearfuse.com, the Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade in Portland, Oregon, features this amazing ode to Dig Dug in stained glass along one wall:

Dig Dug window

And according to the official website, Ground Kontrol just got their liquor license this month! That means that, to my knowledge’s best, Ground Kontrol is the coolest place to grab a beer on the west coast (the east coast trophy goes to Barcade, of course).

Update (from the comments; thanks, Art!):

Hey, I’m Ground Kontrol’s manager and I just wanted to clear up a couple of things!

We’ve had a beer & wine license since 2005, but were able to make some very helpful changes to our license just this past month: extending our serving hours to 5PM (from 7PM), and having more flexibility so we can now serve beer & wine during private events at any time of day, and also allowing minors during private events in which alcohol is served (so now your kid doesn’t have to stay home during your Best Birthday Ever should you want to include alcohol service!)

Also, we’re not yet serving hard alcohol. Beer taps are next on the list, so we can more efficiently serve your favorite beers. Hard alcohol (and the food required by the OLCC to serve it) will be the stage after that!

Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
511 NW Couch St.
Portland, OR 97209
(503)796-9364

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