Tesla versus Edison. AC versus DC.

It’s no secret that Real Art has love for inventors. With the surge of popularity around the classic Tesla-Edison feud, we tapped into that buzz by channeling the spirit of these legendary inventors.

How do you amplify the legend of these two extraordinary minds, pay respect to their life’s work, and build a promotional tool for Proto BuildBar at the same time?

You build an arcade game that shocks people.

a game that REALLY HERTZ


Feel that warm, custom-milled metal joystick? That baby’s live via an aluminum conduit hooked up to a low-amperage power source controlled by Arduino Due, ready to dish out up to 200 volts of shock.

It’s not enough electricity to actually hurt you, but plenty to make playing the game—or watching other people play the game—a lot more interesting.

give it some CHARACTER

We knew early on that the personality and charm of these two icons would be key to the game's success. Hand-animating full move sets would be a monumental task, so instead we focused on filming two actors on green screen, which quickly gave us a full range of actions and poses. Keying, down-sampling and retouching each frame by hand gave the ability to hit that classic retro-arcade style.

Original Image
Modified Image

setting the STAGE

What good is an epic battle without a an epic battleground? To keep each match fresh, we gave players the choice between four locations.

brand new OLDSKOOL

From the inception of this project, our designers and devs agreed to walk the line between modern game development and retro processes. Unity3D gave us the options we needed to build a classic 2.5D sprite-based fighting game, while at the same time leveraging a built-in physics engine and modern development toolsets. Freelance Audio Composer (and Real Art Alumni) Adam Haroff scored the games soundtrack using traditional FM Synthesis accurate to the arcade era.


designing The only of its kind

When Tesla vs. Edison began development, two facts were set in stone: one that this game would live inside Proto BuildBar, and two, that it would be the only one of its kind. With these points in mind, we were able put extra love into the cabinet’s physical design through plexiglass warning badges, ground lighting, vinyl graphics, and extruded letterforms, which were 3D printed in-house at Proto.

This attention to detail matches the makerspace attitude of Proto BuildBar. This isn't a mass-produced thing youll be finding at every bowling alley.

20k week one views

lightning in A BOTTLE

We know that not everyone can just hop in a car and visit Proto for a quick Tesla vs. Edison brawl. To help spread the good word, Real Art’s video team filmed a live-action spot to capture the spirit of the project.

Articles, writeups and enthusiasm came from every direction. Tech sites, gaming sites, pop-culture news outlets, Tesla fan groups... all kinds of people found something to love in Tesla vs. Edison.

shock & awe

“War of Currents” premiered at 2016’s SXSW as the centerpiece of Proto’s booth. It generated a fantastic amount of buzz before before coming back to it’s permanent home at Proto Buildbar.

We like to imagine that if Edison and Tesla were here to see our video game, Tesla would want to make a much larger, more powerful arcade cabinet, and Edison would have claimed that he invented it, patented it and tried to sell it.

We here at Real Art think they would both dig it. Read more about the War of Currents in our Thought Lab.