OhHeckYeah: An Immersive Street Arcade

Brian Corrigan

Funding Received: 2013
Denver, CO
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
September 12, 2014

By Brian Corrigan

OhHeckYeah’s 8-week run ended July 26th. During the 15 days the street arcade was open, we witnessed diverse communities come together to play and underused assets being activated with new life. This engagement provided us with a proof of concept while supplying the needed data to transition OhHeckYeah into its next iteration.

Watch how we brought the street arcade to life.

OhHeckYeah: This Is How We Do It from OhHeckYeah on Vimeo.

Watch our opening night celebration.

OhHeckYeah Street Arcade - Opening night, 2014 from Mode Set on Vimeo.

Jam to our original theme song produced by the Colorado Symphony.

Denver Street Arcade Attracts Gamers Of All Ages
Oh Heck Yeah Dazzles Denver With Massive Interactive Video Games
Five classic arcade games that deserve the OhHeckYeah treatment
OhHeckYeah takes over Champa Street
Play in the Streets
OhHeckYeah’s Final Night
Human video arcade game coming to Greeley on Friday


DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. We predicted the wait time to play would be a pain point, causing us to develop a prototype for a line management tool. After the opening we discovered that the wait created an opportunity to learn how to play the games by watching and another occasion for positive iteration between new/old friends. By testing the prototype on the street without fully developing the tool, we were able to collect data usage from the community before fully developing. This product development strategy, Minimum Viable Product, helped us avoid building a product the community did not want, ultimately saving us valuable development time.

Lesson: Save resources by building products and features using a Minimum Viable Product strategy.

DESIGNING FOR EVERYBODY. To achieve the goal of “connecting through play,” we understood the need to design the video games for all levels of mobility and skill. The game mechanics would have to accommodate for the potential matchup of gamers and non-gamers. By taking into account all the possible human factors, we were able to design and build an experience for all.

Lesson: Anticipate all possible human factors to eliminate barriers that prevent participation.

TECHNOLOGY AS A CONNECTOR. Some say that the use of technology puts us in a personal bubble. As we walk on the street, we stare into the screens of our devices and ignore the world around us. We argue that this problem isn’t necessarily a technology problem but a design problem. We reframed the problem to ask, “How do we design technology to connect people in the physical world?” By asking the question in a new way, we were able to design the video games to succeed in our goal of using technology to connect people in public space.

Lesson: Reframe the way we design technology to enable people to connect in the physical realm.

Another day at the arcade with our game Tinker Bot in the background. Another day at the arcade with our game Tinker Bot in the background.[/caption]

CONTENT AS ADVERTISEMENT. Like most startups, the initial budget did not allow for spending on paid advertisements. Instead, we developed a strategy that focused on building marketing partnerships and earned media. During the course of the project we secured over 20 media partnerships and averaged at least three news stories a month for a year in both local and national media publications. The project was featured on NPR, PSFK, GOOD, Denver Post, Westword and Colorado Public Radio. This strategy resulted in the street arcade operating at over a 90% capacity from the beginning with no paid advertisements.

Lesson: Create meaningful content that tells a compelling and sharable story.

BRING PEOPLE ALONG FOR THE RIDE. After recording the voice over for the OhHeckYeah “about” video last fall, we collectively decided the energy generated in the moments of creation needed to be shared. Typically, the public isn’t exposed to the creative process. They usually only see it after its fully packaged. We realized that by bringing the public into the creation, we could share the excitement and create another opportunity for engagement.

Lesson: Invite the public to be involved in the moments of creation.

THE PROS OF CROWDFUNDING. Last fall we launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign. Although we did not meet our fundraising goal, we were grateful for what it did afford us. The campaign was an opportunity to educate the public about our project nine months before the launch and generated both local and national media attention. It also helped us secure additional partnerships and acted as a volunteer recruitment tool.

Lesson: Walk the talk. Risk, failure and success are all a part of the vocabulary.

THE UI/UX OF THE CITY. While working on the first iteration of OhHeckYeah, we began to see the two blocks of Champa Street benefit from the overlaying digital layer we created. By embedding the built infrastructure with transparent technology, we create new opportunities for the way we design and interact with physical spaces. In the digital realm, this design and interaction is referred to as User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX). In simple terms, UI is the visual design and UX is how the product feels to the user. To bring this concept into the physical, the UI represents the built environment (sidewalks, buildings, benches, etc) and the UX represents the perceived emotional result of the experience (safe, happy, dangerous, trustworthy, untrustworthy, etc). By embedding a digital layer over the street, we create new opportunities for UI/UX artists to experiment with the infinite ways public space can be reimagined to be more connected, safe, economically integrated and vibrant.

Lesson: Think of the built environment in terms of UI/UX to create new opportunities for interactions that create healthier and stronger places.