The Fred C. Shure Lounge and Engineering Learning Center in the Bob and Betty Beyster Building on North Campus is no longer all work and no play.
A lone-standing arcade system — called the MichiGames arcade — has been installed and is now used to showcase student-made video games.
Despite its appearance, the MichiGames arcade differs from traditional gaming units. The arcade system features four Xbox-esque controllers instead of joysticks, which allow for more complex and sophisticated gaming, including the option for multiplayer.
Currently, the system hosts five games — three made in the fall 2016 EECS 494 class, Game Design and Implementation, and two others created earlier this year at Wolverine Software’s Game Jam, an annual competition where teams have 48 hours to create a complete video game.
MichiGames arcade was first developed by Austin Yarger, an Engineering graduate student and EECS 494 instructor.
“It turns out that there are a lot of people around here making games,” Yarger said. “They are this beautiful combination of engineering, art, music, design and writing, but we noticed a problem. Students who were putting their hearts and souls in their games, they get played at the showcase at the end of the semester, and then disappeared. They end up up in some dusty hard drive somewhere.”
The cabinet for the arcade was purchased and donated by University alum Todd Newman, with funding for internal work provided by the Departmental Computing Organization of EECS.
The current games hosted on the system consist of three competitive action racers and two tricky puzzles, though there are more to come, according to Yarger, who, in addition to developing the system, is its sole curator.
“Making a game for an arcade is actually quite different than a computer or system,” Yarger said. “I go around to the Game Jams and showcases and find games that could be adapted to our system, but are also popular, the ones people want to play.”
Besides offering a break in between classes, the system has also sparked the imagination of students around campus. Engineering senior Antonio Fernandez is looking forward to discovering what additions could be made to the current system.
“(I’d like to see) some kind of virtual reality, maybe gloves, so that you could move the characters without using the buttons or sticks,” Fernandez said.
Engineering junior Thomas Bartlett, is the developer of “Agent O’Hare,” one of the games available to play in the cabinet, is excited about his game reaching the public.
“Prior to putting the game in the MichiGames cabinet, the only people who had really played it were the other sleep-deprived developers at the Game Jam event,” Bartlett said. “Having the game available to the whole public anytime seemed like a great way to make sure our hard work wasn’t for nothing.”