McKinney creates “Beercade” for Raleigh brewery Big Boss

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 08:03 PM

It’s an arcade game, but it also dispenses beer.

Those are the basics for the “Beercade,” a beer-dispensing arcade game invented by two employees at the Durham-based advertising agency McKinney, which is part of the South Korea-based global advertising network Cheil Worldwide.

The game was created for one of the agency’s clients, Raleigh-based Big Boss Brewing Co., to help the more than six-year-old brewery stand out in the crowd at beer festivals and other sampling events, said Adam Carroll, a 27-year-old creative technologist at McKinney who co-created the game.

The other co-creator, Owen Tingle, a 34-year-old associate creative director at McKinney, said it’s a crowded market at beer festivals and tastings. They wanted to help customers remember Big Boss.

“As soon as you drink the beer, you forget what beer it was,” Tingle said. “We thought this was a great promotional item for Big Boss to …make it harder for (customers) to forget who they are.”

In the game, called “The Last Barfighter,” two players choose one of five characters that represent the year-round Big Boss brews, according to an email from Janet Northen, director of agency communications for McKinney.

The players fight in three rounds using moves such as punches and kicks, Northen’s email said, as well as other “signature moves,” such as fire throwing. The best player of three rounds wins and a sample of beer is automatically dispensed.

Carroll said they’ve been talking about the idea for about a year. Both he and Owen grew up playing video games, and both later “grew to appreciate beer.”  Tingle said they got an idea to start an arcade, and put a bar in it. The idea evolved into Beercade.

The game was constructed using the workshop of a co-worker’s father, who helped construct it. The illustrations on the side of the game were done internally at McKinney, and the game was programmed at the agency.

Beercade made its first appearance last year at an event where Tingle said they launched it to work out the kinks. Now they’re launching it in a bigger way since they know it works.

Northen said McKinney received three requests for the Beercade Friday, and Tingle said they’re “definitely considering” what else they can do with the technology.

But Carroll said that involves a “tricky web” of legal issues related to alcohol distribution that impacts planning for a mass production of such a product.

“We have a lot more logistical discovery and/or planning on our part for a mass production,” Carroll said.