Kentucky Derby – New York


Switch Posts

Ben Barker

22nd August 2014

We were asked by London-based experience design duo Bompas & Parr to design a Kentucky Derby – a traditional horse racing game commonly seen at funfairs – but with a bawdy twist. The game was to form part of their Funland Exhibition at the Museum of Sex, New York. Never having been a studio to say ‘no’ to making large-scale arcade games, we agreed. The twist? The horses were… well, they were shiny disco sticks. They were glittery schlongs. Spangly wangs.

They were golden hand-carved penises.

Hardware and Software

Our proposed design had four players, each with a dedicated individual rolling ramp, a corresponding racing lane, lighting and audio. Underneath we constructed four identical, 2 meter long linear rail sets. To ensure precise control of each carriage we used a combination of T5 timing belts and pulleys. Each set powered by ‘Nema23’ motor controlled by a variable step and current drivers. Strips of wire created a link between the wheel of the carriage and the ‘horse’ to create a wobbly ‘galloping’ motion.

The use of SPDT (Single Pole Double Throw) micro limit switches as sensors helped to determine ‘home’ and ‘end’ positions, allowing us to calibrate the horse position on activation and determine the winner. The same switches were used to count successful rolls.

The code for the game was written to allow us to adjust the speed and number of rolls required for a win, important as the mechanic was being developed alongside the cabinet, 8 successful rolls proved to offer the best difficulty level.

Audio loops were played from an Mp3 shield which were used in combination with led and signal lights, different combinations were generated in response to different stages of the game.

Here’s a video on the game, and the whole exhibition:

Cool Hunting Video: Funland from Cool Hunting on Vimeo.