Saturday, 12 May 2012

Nintendisco Interview

For gamers of a certain age, the idea of playing retro classics in a club with their mates, enjoying a few drinks and electronic tunes all the while, might seem too good to be true. But Dave Fade and Nicky Biscuit, the guys behind Nintendisco, have made it a reality. “The nights are about bringing the experiences of gaming socially with your friends when you were younger to a more adult pub/club environment, whilst also bringing in big tunes and more vibes.” says Dave, and it's hard to deny that the premise sounds intriguing.

Launched in Camden in 2010, Nintendisco offers punters the chance to play classic competitive games on a big screen, while at the same time enjoying a traditional club night of dancing, drinking, and DJs. Dave and Nicky, two music industry veterans, came up with the idea behind the nights after their respective band projects failed to work out. “We wanted to combine our live music and promoting experience with our love for games, and make an event that everyone could enjoy. Sort of like gaming karaoke, or watching a football match on a big screen, but watching a round of Mario Kart instead.”

As for music, an eclectic mix of chiptunes, electro, hip hop, and game soundtracks is the order of the day (or nights). “We keep our nights quite musically eclectic: basically anything that is indebted to gaming in some way is fine!” the guys explain. Samples from various classic games are thrown into the mix as well, which can work in more ways than one: “It's amazing how well Mario power up sounds work in Hip Hop- it hides the swearing nicely when we have to do family friendly events!” 
Drinking and retro gaming come together naturally

Since their first night the Nintendisco team have developed momentum, putting on a string of successful events around the country. But have they been surprised by the positive reaction they've received? “We really have” says Dave. “When we started the event we really didn't know what the reaction would be. I think that gamers are sometimes seen as people who sit alone in their rooms and don't see much sunlight, but this really isn't the case; they like to party!” Their success resulted in them being asked by Nintendo themselves to put on the launch events for the 3DS console last year, which in turn led to appearances at summer festivals, and a tour of university unions. For Dave and Nicky, this was a step in the right direction.

“Working with Nintendo has been fun, it was great to be asked to host the launch of the 3DS and tour the summer music festivals and student freshers weeks with them. I think that we can really add something to their events and move them away from the slightly sterile and kiddy orientated brand that perhaps people have started seeing them as. Nintendo always have and always will be cool to us, and to be a part of that has thus far been a pleasure.”

Nintendisco obviously has a lot of appeal for older gamers, the kind of people who spent hours playing these games the first time around (Dave and Nicky themselves cut their gaming teeth on the 48k Spectrum). But the nights seem to have broader appeal than a particular generation of gamers. Can they pinpoint what's made them so popular? “I think the appeal lies in the social aspect of the events.” says Dave. “It's actual social gaming: people in a room, sat down next to one another playing games! We get quite annoyed when we hear the term 'Social gaming' thrown around to describe sitting alone playing a Call of Duty multiplayer with people all around the globe. We really can't see how that could be described as social. If I drink when I'm on the phone at home alone I wouldn't be described as a social drinker!”

Competitive classics like Mario Kart and Street Fighter are brought out

With events like these you'd expect a bit of shyness: not many people dream of being humiliated at Mario Kart in front of hundreds of drunk strangers. But they never have trouble convincing people to play on the big screen. “I think the fact that everything is kept quite casual helps a lot.” says Dave. “It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned pro or a first-time button masher. Anyone can get up and have a go, and know that the crowd will support them whether they win or lose.” He adds “It's great to see people who are dancing break mid way through to cheer on the underdog playing a game of Street Fighter 2!”

As for the future, Dave and Nicky are hopeful. “We would love to be involved with some more game launches and press events. We hosted the launch of Bit.Trip in Camden recently, and the event was fantastic. It's a great way for the developers and publishers to meet not only the press, but also the players, and to gauge the reactions of someone playing 'their baby' for the first time.” However, the pair are realistic when it comes to the idea of expanding the nights around the country. “It's one of the goals, but these things take time!” Dave explains. However, Scotland is at least on their radar: "(Scotland) is somewhere we would love to host something. Maybe we'll spend a few days up there and meet some like minded people, see if we can get a regular event or show or something sorted.” We can only hope it works out sooner rather than later.

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