Mechanised Fun

I love video games of course, but I’ve always had an interest in mechanical games when they pretend to be a video game.

Arcades are an easy source of examples. Besides Pinball and Foosball there’s loads of ticket redemption ‘skill’ games available. My current favourite is Pacman Smash. It’s an air-hockey game with the equivalent of multi-ball. Amazing fun with 4 players.

Of course mechanical games existed long before digital games. But even when digital did take over during the late 70s, and everyone else in the world was making silicon based hand-held games, Tomy made a range of mechanical/electrical games. I owned a copy of Hit and Missile and it was both terrible and interesting. All moving elements in the game are mechanical so it was possible for the missile to jam against the enemies. I was more interested in how it managed to create this illusion using only mechanical parts.

One of my favourite games as a kid was Screwball Scramble. Essentially an obstacle course, the player has to move their marble from start to finish through a variety of mechanical challenges. In this case it was the variety that was key and everyone had their favourite (and dreaded) part. Some parts require little skill and others really need to be practiced to master.

Sometimes there’s examples of video games pretending to be mechanical toys… pretending to be real world games 🙂 Like these mini-games from Nintendo’s Wii Party U.

My prime motivator is ‘making’. I have this constant urge to make stuff, hence my career choice. As a kid, obviously, I played with Lego but I often tried to join it with other bits and pieces trying to create mechanical games. They rarely worked. Actually, now I’m researching this, I suspect I was only ever really interested in MAKING mechanical games because playing them was usually quite dull 🙂

These days there’s a huge movement in home-made everything. Electronics and mechanical engineering are brought together to create new, often useless, things. At this point I’ll direct you to Instructibles.

If you’ve not been there it’s a site for ‘making stuff’ in general but a large portion of entries focuses on games.


– Aaron