Makerspace hosts vintage games on Tuesday nights
If you want to get your Sega Genesis on outside of a mansion, Retro Game Night is the perfect chance to do just that.
The event is held every Tuesday at Maker House, which officially opened in the Bates Mansion on North Stone Avenue on Oct. 3.
Before now, the mansion was empty and closed off to the public for about 70 years.
Maker House is an ArtFire project founded by Tony Ford and John Jacobs, who stumbled onto the building when it had a ‘For Rent’ sign out front. They decided to create a makerspace focused on art, creativity, expression and learning.
Shortly thereafter, Maker House began holding Vintage Video Games night, where attendees could bring their own childhood video games and play them on large projector screens. Vanessa Ford, executive director of Maker House, said a part of the demographic was missing, so the event changed to Retro Game Night to accommodate people who wanted to play board games as well.
Maker House has three to four projectors for the night and is in the process of building a giant screen outside the venue. Matt Rios, program manager of Maker House, said they will pick up more projectors at the next UA auction so they can project on all the walls.
“We projected ‘Pac-Man’ on the [city] courthouse, which was fun,” Ford said. “The way the pattern of the ‘Pac-Man’ grid and the way the building grid matched up was pretty interesting.”
Retro Game Night has a Sega Genesis, a Nintendo Entertainment System and two Vectrex consoles, which came out in the ’80s and were only manufactured for about three years. Rios brought in both Vectrex consoles, which he says he played throughout his childhood.
“One day, I was helping my dad move, and we discovered another brand new [Vectrex],” Rios said. “He was like, ‘Oh yeah, I liked it so much I bought a spare, and it’s been in here ever since.’”
Rios and coffee bar manager Aly Holler, as well as members of Maker House, bring their own wide selection of games for the night. Ford said organizers expect the event to quickly become popular, especially if the liquor license the venue has applied for comes through at the end of this month.
“This Tuesday, we have somebody bringing in 400 games for the Genesis,” she said. “You never know who’s going to bring what down on a given night.”
Rios is also looking into a series of interactive VHS tapes to bring in within the next couple of weeks. The tapes take the player through an animation, and they control a gun and spaceship while keeping score and taking damage.
“You’re actually watching an animation on the screen with a VHS tape, but you’re interacting with it with this device,” Rios said.
The idea behind Maker House is to bring a different type of community narrative experience to playing video games, which Rios says is hard to find nowadays.
“The problem when console games came out is that it isolates somebody. It’s harder to have that group interaction,” he said. “Even when you have multiplayer … it’s hard to get that group narrative to achieve that kind of goal.”
Retro Game Night organizers plan to buy a Super Nintendo Entertainment System and a pinball machine in the near future.
Maker House is a place of community and learning, Ford said, and everyone is encouraged to visit, whether it’s to work on a project or just to get out and play a board game.
“A space like this should be communal and should be inspiring,” Ford said. “[It] should be a place where you can come and collaborate and create. It shouldn’t be just for the upper echelon of society.”
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