Skee-Ball, Anyone?

Using electromechanics, Adam Shreckhise’s homemade arcade games are clattering to life.




Photo by John Altdorfer
 

It’s open house at PLAY parlour, a budding nightlife destination created by artist and sculptor Adam Shreckhise. An oddly tranquil mini-golf hole sits in one corner, the windmill whirring softly. A few feet away, a furious frenzy of pistons and gears fires to life inside a see-through case; two players begin frantically smacking the top of the box with toy bats, competing to win at a Whack-a-Mole game stripped to its skeleton. All around the room, eager players are vying for supremacy. But this arcade isn’t going to remind anyone of popping quarters into “Pac-Man.”

A self-taught master of wires and switches, Shreckhise has made unique installations before — a robot that created its own paintings for the Pittsburgh Biennial and another that tried (in vain) to communicate with Mattress Factory visitors — but PLAY parlour is more than an art exhibit.

“It gives you a structure with which to interact with people,” he says. “If you just walk up to a stranger at a bar — that’s tough. But saying, ‘Hey, do you wanna throw some Skee-Ball?’ That’s easy. You’re just hanging out.”

The spark for PLAY parlour was mini-golf, Shreckhise says. “A friend was trying to set up a course in Indiana, where every hole would be made by a different artist,” he explains. “His funding fell apart. But I’d already built a miniature-golf hole.” Shreckhise had also been tinkering with a sonic dartboard and kept cobbling games together.

He gained his familiarity of electronics and machinery as his prior artwork required. PLAY parlour is the result of that accumulated knowledge — all assembled without the aid of a computer.

“There’s no programming or software,” he says. “It’s all electromechanics. This is the stuff that arcades started out as.”

This month, the place opens for the first-ever Wreckless Arcade Tournament, a battle that will send players through a one-night ringer of DIY competition. The showdown will take place Feb. 16 at the parlour’s current home (5258 Butler St., Lawrenceville); hopeful gamers can register online at playparlour.com/tournament.

There’s no grand prize in store for the victor, “other than pride and joy,” as Shreckhise puts it. And that’s the idea, really — you don’t go to PLAY parlour to beat the other guy; you go to relax and have fun.

Hot Reads

Top 10

Top 10

Here are the 10 best things to do in Pittsburgh this November.
Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.

The 412

CMU’s Newest Campus-Life Venture Is Decidedly Low Tech

CMU’s Newest Campus-Life Venture Is Decidedly Low Tech

Check your laptop (and your textbook) at the door and stop by the Mindfulness Room for a little zen.
Your Guide to Putting Together a Costume in Less Than 24 Hours

Your Guide to Putting Together a Costume in Less Than 24 Hours

Follow these steps to assemble your best Halloween getup yet.
Could ‘Green Light-Go’ Eliminate the Pittsburgh Left?

Could ‘Green Light-Go’ Eliminate the Pittsburgh Left?

The state-sponsored program looks to add $75 million in traffic-signal upgrades throughout the city.
Google Dedicates Today’s Doodle to Jonas Salk

Google Dedicates Today’s Doodle to Jonas Salk

See a tribute to the late scientist each time you go to look up something today.

Hot Reads

Top 10

Top 10

Here are the 10 best things to do in Pittsburgh this November.
Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.
Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

PittGirl doesn't know why we say "warsh" — but she has figured out why we 'Burghers hit the brakes at the sight of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.