Whatever you may think of video games (new media art form, societal ill, lame waste of time) there was no avoiding them in downtown Denver this summer. From June 7 to July 26, three blocks of Champa Street between 14th Street and the 16th Street Mall were transformed into one big video arcade. Known as Oh Heck Yeah, the project assembled local and national arts groups and businesses to activate this stretch of turf with a variety of programming centered around a series of custom designed, family friendly video games. Designed by Denver-based creative teams Legwork Studio and Mode Set, the games were played on the Theatre District’s giant LED screens.
Players controlled the games’ characters with their body movements and had the opportunity to interact with them via Twitter profiles backed by local improv comedy group Bovine Metropolis. In addition to the games, Oh Heck Yeah’s business and institutional sponsors put on a variety of “fun” happenings, such as karaoke, live music, dancing, and street theater. According to Brian Corrigan, the purpose of Oh Heck Yeah was to “use the power of play to connect people on the street.” Connecting people, he said, makes the street safer and the city more “resilient,” which has replaced sustainability as everyone’s favorite buzzword. In its two months of operation, Oh Heck Yeah attracted 40,000 players and garnered Denver its fair share of national media attention.