Reclaim Arcade Chats with Zach Whalen’s Games and Culture Course

Yesterday Tim and I spoke with Zach Whalen‘s “Games and Culture” course about Reclaim Arcade, and it was fun! The stream was overloaded for the first 9 minutes given Zach was crashing his computer with all the awesome that is Reclaim Arcade, but at minute 9:15 or so it starts calming down and the conversation gets underway. Tim and I had some fun chatting with Zach about everything from how we started this project to where we get our games to which are our favorites and why, and much more. Tim shared his brilliant work with hooking the Avengers pinball machine to the internet as well as showed off the epic video wall—he’s damn good. Whereas Zach was particularly tickled by the walk-through we provided of the entire space given he did not realize we re-created the UMW Console Living Room that he and I teamed up to build at the UMW ITCC in 2015. That was a highlight for me because, like Zach, I not just nostalgic for the 1980s, but also for cool projects I did with awesome faculty like him at UMW 🙂

Another highlight was listening to Zach talk about the culture around video games in the 70s and 80s. His contextualization of the creation of Pong, along with the controversy around the 1976 Exidy video game Death Race (which I didn’t know) were brilliant. And I had no idea about the long history of arcades and deviancy dating back to Mayor LaGuardia’s sledgehammering a pinball machine in 1942! It was going back to school with the best, and I loved it.

I also appreciated Zach’s approach to the online classroom, streaming discussions via Twitch, using Discord for conversation and chat, and embedding links and media in the live stream discussion. It was a really cool look at how teaching during lockdown has adopted so many elements of the Youtubers and gaming streamers to create meaningful online learning environments, who knew those video-gaming deviants would be creating the model for teaching online for the 21st century?

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