Some might call Kyle Downes a game geek. We prefer to term “industrious young man.”
Maybe that’s because we are hoping for an invitation to play with his giant NES game controller/coffee table. In between his last year studying Multimedia at RMIT University, this 20-year-old has become somewhat of an Internet phenom, thanks to his blog Ultra Awesome and his passion turning retro video games into functional furniture.
Kyle first came up with the idea to build his giant controller after seeing a similar one on the video game network, G4 TV. “I thought it looked like a heap of fun,” he says. “The main problem I had with it was that it sort of didn’t look very good or ‘accurate’—it just looked kind of flat and fake.”
It was a good time to consider such a project. Kyle had already filled the storage space in his Asteroids cabinet. That’s right; two years ago, he constructed an Asteroids cabinet, which currently holds an old Panasonic TV and, of course, video games. “I was running out of space for my games and needed a way to keep them organized,” he says.
When he started this second project, one of Kyle’s main goals was to make it look as realistic as possible, with raised surfaces, similar colors and all of the edges to scale. All of this was achieved by using spray paint “for the smooth plastic-y bits, and a roller for the slightly textured-feeling inlay,” he says.
The entire process is chronicled on Kyle’s website. However, despite the details, he says that the project was pretty easy, thanks to the “square/geometric nature” of the table. However, like all projects, it had challenges.
“The most difficult part was making the D-pad, so it actually works and rocks in all directions,” Kyle admits. “I needed bolts that ran through the backing plate to guide it. However, because of the way they moved when it rocked from side to side, they needed more clearance than was preferable. I ended up using some washers to keep the springs in place.”
The whole project may be a blur of bolts and spray paint, but Kyle says it took about three or four months to complete. “Most of that time was waiting for my dad to give me a lift down to the hardware store to pick up some materials,” he says. After all, it’s hard to carry 100 pounds of MDF plywood on the back of a motorbike.
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.