Accessibility is often at the forefront of game designers' minds, but James Medd's latest project looks at accessibility from a different angle. Its name? Awkward Arcade.
Developed over the past four months by James and an array of games designers, Awkward Arcade is to launch in Manchester's Northern Quarter on the 2nd of June. As the name suggests, the games aren't designed to be quite as accessible as mainstream titles. Perhaps the most interesting is Line Wobbler by Robin Baumgarten, an Arduino-powered one-dimensional dungeon crawler title played on a string of programmable LEDs and controlled by wobbling a door-stopper spring backwards and forwards - but it's not alone in its somewhat unique approach to gaming.
Christiaan Moleman's Guppy asks the player to control a fish by flapping its tail, hiding in the shade of lilies and sneaking into the open to find food without becoming food; Argument Champion is described by its creator Charlie Deck as a "rhetorical combat simulator;" The Mashing by event organiser James himself takes the button-mashing approach to combat games to its logical conclusion, pitting ten players in a five-a-side mashathon.
Other titles at the arcade are awkward on a different level: Paolo Pedercini's Every Day The Same Dream is a well-regarded indie game about feeling alienated in your daily life, while Anna Anthropy's Ohmygod Are You Alright puts the player in the author's shoes following being hit by a car and dealing with the aftermath.
While many of the games on show have been available purely digitally, James' Awkward Arcade brings them into the physical realm with custom-built arcade cabinets. For anyone in the area or planning a visit it promises to be a unique event, with tickets available for free via Eventbrite.
The Awkward Arcade is a game project looking to highlight ‘awkward’ games in an arcade environment. What do we mean by awkward? Loosely, games that fit into the categories below: * Games that instill a sense of awkwardness in the player, be that through their interface or other design elements * Games that experiment with established ideas of what constitutes a ‘game’