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An Arcade Game That Dispenses…Beer!

Beercade: The Last Barfighter

Arcade games have long been a popular bar distraction, but Durham-based ad agency McKinney has recently taken coin-operated entertainment to a new level. Instead of inserting quarters and playing for points, two players can now insert their beer cups and battle each other for a drink. They call it the Beercade.

Created for Big Boss Brewing Company, Beercade is the first-ever beer-dispensing arcade game. McKinney created it in-house through the McKinney Ten Percent, the ad agency's incubator that encourages all employees to devote 10% of their time to focus on new applications of creativity and technology unrelated to current client business.

So how does it work? The game is modeled on the Flash-based game “The Last Barfighter.”   Two thirsty players deposit their empty cups on a ledge beneath a small beer tap at the base of the arcade. They then choose to be one of five characters named after Big Boss beers. In what looks like a biker bar, the characters then fight in three rounds using an arsenal of creative fighting moves controlled by the players' joysticks. The best player of the three rounds wins, and a sample of beer is automatically dispensed to the winner’s cup via the Beercade taps. Watch a video of it here:

"Its coin slot has been replaced with a few drip trays, cupholders and motion sensors to accept a cup in place of a quarter," explains McKinney Creative Technologist Adam Carroll. "When we started, we were trying to find a way for retro arcade machines to live again, and when we brought the idea to our client, Big Boss Brewing, they jumped on board."

The arcade machine itself was constructed out of wood and styled after the old fashioned machines still standing at some arcades, pizza joints and music venues. Two players stand side by side working identical joysticks. Each side of the machine features custom-illustrated pictures. On one a man holds a beer high in victory while being grasped at from below by scantily clad women; on the other side, a woman is similarly posed extending a certain finger. The game logo and typography was developed by McKinney graphic designers and is displayed across the top of the machine.

"I grew up playing video games, and I remember stacking quarters at the old arcades waiting in line to show off my virtual fighting skills. And I think it's a nostalgic experience a lot of people identify with," said Associate Creative Director Owen Tingle. "I've also grown to appreciate the craft and skill it takes to make good-tasting beer. So to combine these two passions into a unique experience other people can enjoy was just awesome."

Big Boss Brewing's marketing and distribution manager Dave Roger says that they plan on featuring The Last Barfighter at events that help raise funds and awareness for their charitable partners.

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.
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