Organic Hardware at Fantastic Arcade


 Paloma Dawkins and Cale Bradbury, Alea (2015)

This past week, Fantastic Arcade, an independently curated video games arcade featuring talks, tournaments, and over 45 playable games—part of the Fantastic Fest film festival—was held in Austin's Alamo Drafthouse.

A number of the games at Fantastic Arcade this year featured alternative game controllers. Cat Nips contains stuffed animals whose bellies need to be rubbed; the gameplay in Butt Sniffin' Pugs was controlled by balls that needed to be rolled. Other games used a receipt dispenser and a gun with which one played Russian Roulette. A fair amount of the games, easily accessible in the arcade setup, featured used standard controllers and interfaces, from Playstation controllers to mice and keyboards. The audience was diverse; the only underrepresented group appeared to be X-box players (fun fact: Sony Playstation sponsored Fantastic Arcade).

Perhaps the most innovative and interesting game was Alea, a psychedelic hiking simulator designed by Paloma Dawkins and Cale Bradbury using organic materials as part of the hardware.