Insert Coin to Begin: The Story of the Starcade and Its Promising Future


       “Growing up in the eighties I used to love going to the arcade and thought the machines these people were building were cool. I had also just finished reading Ready Player One, so I decided that I needed an arcade machine,” Mr. Soden said, explaining his inspiration to build the newest addition to his room. The Starcade is a massive up-to-four player arcade machine currently situated in the Media Tech room. Its appearance was a surprise to many students, but Mr. Soden had been laboriously building the behemoth console since spring break.

       “I was at a teacher meeting last fall and Mrs. Waugh was showing the teachers pictures of furniture she had looked at for the new school building. In one of the pictures… there was a sit-down Pac-Man machine, and she joked that she really wanted an arcade machine for the new school,” Mr. Soden said. “I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted the machine to look like. And I spent a lot of time looking online at pictures of arcade machine that other people had built to get an idea of how to do it and how big it should be.”

     “As spring break approached I started to do some of the work. I didn’t use enough clamps to hold the template in place the first time I tried to cut a side. The template moved while I was cutting and the edge ended up wavy and misshaped. I learned from my failure…” Mr. Soden said. “I used every clamp in the Maker Space to hold the template while I cut a new side. I spent the rest of spring break building the rest of the cabinet and creating lots of sawdust in the Maker Space… I finally finished with the construction last week.”

       “There are around 140 classic arcade games on the machine. I tried to limit the games to ones that I think are fun. There are also around 50 films made by Media Tech students, although I plan on adding more films.” Mr. Soden said. While I’m sure a single-game machine like Pac-Man would’ve been accepted by students, the fact that there are so many different options on the Starcade makes sure there’s something for everyone.

       “I’m still working on getting a few bugs out of the software that runs the machine. When I am done, I’m going to move the machine out into the hallway so that more students can use the machine,” Mr. Soden said. “In order to play a game, you will have to have tokens. I am not sure how I will distribute tokens yet, you may need to watch a film made by Media Tech students to receive some, we’ll see…”

       “I really hope that the Media Tech students will use the machine to show their friends and visitors to the school the really great work they do in class,” Mr. Soden said. “Over the years they have made some really impressive short films and hardly anybody gets to watch them. By having this I hope that more people will get a chance to see their films. And if a few Ann Richards students gain an appreciation for old school video games, that’s a bonus.”

       Everyone can agree that the Starcade is a welcome addition to the school, providing an entertaining and nostalgic break from the hectic swirl of finals as well as a chance to work together with friends and have fun. Grab your tokens and head on down to the Starcade, where you can play everything from Joust, Fix-It Felix, and Mortal Kombat to the latest Media Tech student’s creation.