Take a Tour of the ESC Game Theater Lab

first_imgStay on target The controllers are modified iPod touches with added haptic feedback. The games are designed to be fast and fun local multiplayer games anyone can enjoy. So the touchscreen and motion control inputs work just fine for the casual gameplay. By knowing the player’s location, the patented spotlight system can do things like divide players into different teams by light or flash on a player who is doing particularly well in tandem with the emcee (in our case ESC’s Pete Vigeant) guiding everyone and adding color commentary. Sorry, You Can’t Date Keanu Reeves in ‘Cyberpunk 2077”Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball Form center_img Debuting just a few months ago, the ESC Game Theaters are immersive entertainment spaces for friends to get together and play some quick multiplayer games together on a huge screen with flashing lights and surround sound. The flagship shopping mall theater is in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, and it’s pretty awesome. To help keep it awesome, ESC tests new games in its New York Game Lab. We recently got to check out that lab, and it’s pretty awesome, too.Th ESC Game Lab isn’t quite as impressive as the full theater. After all, it’s meant for employees and playtesters, not the paying general public. But we did get a good taste of the ESC Game Theater experience. Up to 30 players stand in front of the expansive screen in marked spots. Will Greenwald and I played a deceptively strategic arcade sports game called Robot Basketball where players suck up balls and try to blast more of them into hoops than the other team. It reminded me of NBA Jam in a great way. It’s also one of the games ESC hosts pro tournaments for, giving prizes to budding eSports champions. Will you be Pelé of Cube Ball?We saw a bunch of the other available games, too. Fruit Tattoo has apples and oranges swapping ink. Sticky Floats Parade forces players to hold a giant balloon together while not getting pooped on by pigeons. Hat the Beast is pretty self-explanatory, and Bee Racing is the best bee-related thing since Jerry Seinfeld. Most games were developed by ESC’s own team. New York has a lot of untapped games talent after all. But a few were developed in partnership with Warner Bros. and BumbleBear Games, makers of 10-player Killer Queen arcade cabinet, another amazing multiplayer game. They also know the folks at Gigantic Mechanic, developers of the great local multiplayer Tetris remix Block Party, which I played at last year’s IndieCade East.Being a laboratory, the purpose of this New York space is to playtest new games and make sure they are fun and bug-free before getting played for real at the main ESC theater. Besides coaxing journalists like us with free food and games, ESC lets volunteers sign up for game-testing events in the lab from time to time. Check out Eventbrite if you’re interested. And when you’re ready for the real deal make the pilgrimage to the ESC Game Theater in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey.last_img

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