Wonderful Together: McKinney's Beercade

Beer and arcade games are a winning combination – just go to any bar in Williamsburg, and you’ll see it’s a tried and true formula. Owen Tingle and Adam Carroll of Durham-based agency McKinney took it upon themselves to bring these two things even closer together with their latest project “Beercade.”

McKinney has an internal program called McKinney’s Ten Percent, which fosters employees’ creativity by allowing them to spend 10 percent of their time to come up with innovative projects of their own. As part of their 10 percent time, creative technologist Carroll and associate creative director Tingle came up with a bright idea after chatting about their love of gaming, old games and, of course, beer: Make two become one. Hence, “Beercade,” an arcade game that dispenses beer, was born.

The game itself is called “The Last Barfighter,” and much like the good old Street Fighter arcade games, you get to pick a character and fight your opponent with some kickass moves. But in this case, the fight takes place in a biker bar, and players can use some funky signature moves like fire throwing, unicorn-horn impaling and butt slaps. The best player of the three rounds wins, and a sample of beer is automatically dispensed via the Beercade taps, which are located where coin slots would usually be on an arcade machine.

The entire arcade machine, the machinery and the multiplayer flash game were developed and created in-house by Carroll and Tingle. As Carroll explained, everything about the “Beercade” is built to look like a classic game.

“We built everything in the old school route — the control panels are all analog,” Carroll explained. “And then we converted it to digital input and output. It feels retro but functions just like Ms. Pacman in the ’80s.”

Once the concept and design were in the works, Carroll and Tingle soon realized this project would be a great fit for Raleigh beer company Big Boss Brewery.

“We kind of rolled it into this idea to enhance the beer-sampling experience. We wanted it to feel a little nostalgic and resonate with people in their twenties and up,” Carroll said.

Each of the five characters in the game is named after Big Boss Brewery’s five year-round brews, like Angry Angel and High Roller. The beer brand intends to take the Beercade to different events and beer festivals as a way to showcase their beer and make beer tasting into a more fun and memorable experience.