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2018 DBAA Retrospective

We're approaching the end of 2018 and like every December for the past five years, the preparation for MAGFest is in full swing. This year, we're curating the Indie Arcade for the second time, and have accepted twice as many games as last year. We're also fixing up some of our older games and building a new cabinet - live in real-time - at a panel discussion. So there's a lot of work to be done.

Looking back at last year's MAGFest, it's impressive how much we've done this year alone compared to previous years. We had a sort of mantra in 2018 that was "one event every month" and even though it was kind of crazy, we stuck to it! I think this was influenced in part by our collaboration with WithFriends, a funding platform that helped us recruit members and sell tickets to our events.

So I want to take a look back at the last 12 months and talk briefly about the events and partnerships we had this year. If you get to the end, and you want to see this happen every year, consider donating! Death By Audio Arcade is a 501(c)-3 non-profit, so all donations are tax deductible.

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January: MAGFest 2018

We had been renting box trucks and lugging all of our cabinets to National Harbor, Maryland since 2014. However, this was the first year we were given curatorial control over the Indie Arcade. We had submissions like the 1000ButtonProject by Amanda Hudgins, Scoot Pooch by Kyle Magocs, Dobotone by Videogamo, and the Phillytron by Philly Game Mechanics. I'm also continually impressed by Babycastles, who brought games like Scrape Board and Super Mario Phone and set up a uniquely Babycastles gallery space.

Andy Wallace helped run tournaments for Particle Mace, Volleygon, Nothing Good Can Come of This, and Powerboat Italia '88. We also sold merch for the first time, spearheaded by Nick Santaniello's USB Snack Packs (stay tuned for Volume 2, coming in 2019!).

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February: Skybridge Arcade

When the dust settled, we returned to New York and moved into the recently opened music megaplex Elsewhere. Founded by the Glasslands team (our old neighbors from the Death By Audio days), Elsewhere is a three story, multi-stage venue with a gallery space built into a skybridge. We moved our collection in and had an opening party on February 2nd in collaboration with The Sheep's Meow. This also coincided with a piece in the Wall Street Journal about "Millenials Reinventing the Arcade". During this month-long gallery, we held events like LoFi game night and Video Freak drone night.

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March: Cloud City Demo Night

Moving arcade cabinets around in a box truck is fun, but in March we decided to give our work gloves a break and host a demo night with our friends at Cloud City. We held submissions and selected ten local multiplayer games by NYC developers to showcase on March 9th. The games featured were Juggle Panic, Kill Monkey Kill, Kung Fu Kickball, Red Hot Ricochet, Seam of the Vultures, Sloppy Forgeries, Super Sharp Birds, Tuned Out, Vicious Virus Versus, and Zarvot. This event was also catered by our friend Jenn De La Vega and Randwiches.


April: Channel Surfing at Flattopps

We'd been talking with a new burger joint in Astoria called Flattopps about doing a game night, and in April it seemed like the perfect time to bring a few games for the night. Themed around channel surfing, we installed Dobotone and Tuned Out, two games that consist of multiple minigames, and set them up in the dining area. Dustin Long also curated an NES with some homebrew games, and David Whitely set up a custom LED screen with some Pico-8 games.

Bonus April: Weird Wedding Photobooth

In addition to Channel Surfing, we were asked by Mike and Meredith of the #WeirdWedding to build a gif photobooth for their wedding. Since it was Friday the 13th, it had a spooky theme, and we worked with a few animators to make multiple scenes for the evening. You can check out more photos at the Giffinator webpage!


May: DreamboxXx

In May we started our collaboration with the underground venue Dreamhouse. We moved in our entire collection of cabinets and started planning a custom arcade cabinet with a bunch of games made by LGBTQ developers in NYC. The DreamboxXx launched on May 12th and featured games by Robert Yang, Ayla Myers, Fernando Ramallo, Belladonna Gable, Juno Morrow, Nicole Leffel, Eddie Cameron, Visager, and Bailey Steele. The cabinet was also featured at the monthly OVA THE RAINBOW party on May 26th.


June: Boat Night at Our Wicked Lady

If you've been frequenting bars around Morgan Ave in Bushwick, you may have seen Powerboat Italia '88, which spent most of 2018 living at Our Wicked Lady. In June we held a party in the air conditioning during sweltering heat, and set up Dobotone, Arpongi, and Red Hot Ricochet in the bar for people to play while they cooled down.


July: En Orbita Festival

For almost two years, we've been secretly hacking together a pinball machine themed around A Place To Bury Strangers, the house band from Death By Audio. It's built with strobe lights, a fog machine, lasers, and a booming sound system. Finally, on July 15th, it made its public debut at En Orbita Festival at Le Poisson Rouge and we gave a short presentation during the "science fair" portion of the festival.

August: Superchief Remix/Remax Party

Around the corner from the Dreamhouse is Superchief Gallery - a multimedia arts space that welcomed our collection of cabinets. We wheeled them down the street for a few blocks and set them up for a party on August 17th. Man, it was a hot one. We did an interview with EPK’d before the sweltering warehouse party, featuring games by Blake Andrews and Frank Demarco of Babycastles, as well as some ROM hacks from the collection of Chris Hernandez and Nick Santaniello.

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September: Brooklyn Research Sponsor night

Technically this was at the end of August (August 25th), but this night kicked off a partnership with Brooklyn Research on Flushing Avenue when we installed Volleygon and the pinball machine in their space. Also on display was a unique game called Kitchen Mania, built by members of the Brooklyn Research New Forms of Interaction group. A fellow non-profit organization, Brooklyn Research hosts classes and events around emerging technology.

October: Lost Horizon Night Market

Every once in a while, a group of artists plan a secret event where they put a bunch of art into a box truck and have a pop up gallery in a random parking lot in New York City. For the 2018 Lost Horizon Night Market, we took Video Freak, Particle Mace, and Nothing Good Can Come of This and drove them to a parking lot for a one night showcase.

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November: Alt.Ctrl Game Jam

In San Francisco, there's a convention called GDC and nestled within GDC is the Alt.Ctrl showcase, featuring games that use....alternative controllers. Working with Brooklyn Research, we hosted a game jam featuring developers and creative technologists from around NYC to create four new unique games over a weekend: Circumnavigators, Quadropod, Shrine, and Team Orion.

December: Alt.Ctrl Showcase

Following this game jam, we hosted a showcase of these games at the underground theatre space Caveat on the Lower East Side. This was our last event of the year and it featured all of the new games, as well as Star Versus, Particle Mace, and Video Freak.


Next Up: 2019

On January 2nd, we’re taking upwards of 30 cabinets to MAGFest again for our fifth year in the Indie Arcade. Afterward, we’re loading into Secret Project Robot in Bushwick for another month-long gallery show, opening on January 11th. If you like what we do, you can subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If you’d like to get involved, please email us! We’re always looking for new volunteers and organizers in the NYC area.