A portable video game arcade. A pop up virtual kingdom. A suite of local multi-player arcade machines built from cardboard. A travelling exhibition on video games; as art and as play. A Virtual Reality station. A party. An installation. An educational resource encouraging people of all ages to view gaming as a creative medium.

Because we believe playing together brings people together. Because gaming is one of the most accessible, prominent and adopted art forms in the world today. Because we want to create a space where simple to play games for all ages and abilities get people laughing and talking no matter your background or culture.

Started by performer / producer Michael Bell as a companion installation alongside his comedy/circus show Game it has now become a major project in itself. Alongside Mike there is a crew of improvisers, comedians, artists and tech lords involved.

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The Story So Far

We started with the project in the summer of ’15. We got a chance to run it for a week at a festival called BeFest during which we tested out placing an arcade machine in Birmingham public library. After that we took it to Jackson’s Lane in London for a night and in October we set it up for 5 days at Bristol Old Vic. Since then we’ve run it at Now Play festival at Somerset House, the Eden Project during their half term events and at a few smaller events around the UK.

“The Cardboard Arcade is the perfect interactive installation. The games draw people together, from different ages, backgrounds and nationalities. As shown in their feedback, audiences reacted very positively to the games, in particular young people who had an opportunity to play in a cultural environment. We couldn’t recommend it more.”Isla Aguilar & Miguel Oyarzun, BeFest Directors.

Back to the Future (our plans)

We’re currently focusing on the exhibition side of the project. Sourcing games, making contacts, programming machines to make the arcades run smooth and as user friendly as possible. Already we’ve been getting lots of bookings and requests. We’ve featured the arcade at Now Play festival, the Eden Project and Childrens Media Conference. As it seems to be going so well we’re planning on expanding. Below is the plan for the next phase. We call it Phase 2: The End of Eternity. It’s kind of self explanatory just click through the different numbers and have a read. We want to take it to festivals and events all over Europe. As always any support in any way is appreciated. Future plans past this are outdoor self contained water proof arcade machines in places all over the UK for public to play together on for free. Some performative experiments with battery powered projectors and arcade games in random public places making little tournaments pop up.

More Info

Just in case you’re wondering what is that it is a HGV Truck that we bring to your event (another possibility is to use shipping containers). Inside is a suite of cardboard arcade machines. Outside is live gaming and funtimes. There is a virtual reality station in the cab and a bar/coffee/food shop on the side (optional). On top of this we plan to animate the space with optional walkabout acts, outdoor V.R you can walk around in and physical outdoor games. We’re hoping to apply for funding this winter for it and start getting it out there in 2017. We’re looking for interested events, festivals / people who may want to book it (first people to book get it cheaper / nearly free in some instances depending on support we can get). It’s something that can run in any weather, can animate a space in a huge way, can be set up for other events during the day (bands etc. when projection of games isn’t possible) and is fun for all ages.