Some video games in this world let you drive giant robots. Some let you play multiplayer against your friends. Some even let you use more than one screen when playing. But how many let you drive giant robots using an enclosed cockpit with seven screens and 12-speaker surround sound? How many let you play against your friends with all of you in the same room rather than scattered across the country? How many give you a mission review so you can gloat over said friends immediately while watching the replay? How many are the direct descendant of the first BattleTech pods in Chicago almost twenty years ago, the ones that started an entire industry that spanned the globe? And how many will be at Chicon 7 for your entertainment, free all weekend with a membership?
The last question is the easiest to answer: SIX.
For those who have not yet experienced BattleTech Cockpit Simulator Pods, the Tesla II cockpits created by Virtual World Entertainment are fully enclosed military style simulators that feature seven displays (one primary and six secondary) and a full set of 90 controls (footpedals, throttle, joystick and LOTS of buttons).
When seated in the pod, the player pilots one of a selection of BattleMechs onto one of 25 landscapes to compete for battlefield superiority with those seated in surrounding cockpits.
At Chicon 7, the Pods will be set to run the games "BattleTech" and "Red Planet". These games are played as competitions between the pilots in the other cockpits. There are no computer controlled oponents!
In "BattleTech", you each pilot a 10 meter tall man shaped robot armed to the teeth with weapons. You run through alien landscapes firing your lasers / machine guns / missiles against the other pilots, trying to destroy their 'mech.
In "Red Planet", you are piloting hovercraft of various sizes (fast and small or slow and strong) that may have some weapons as you race up and down the mining canals of Mars in a demolition derby against the other hovercraft.
Each of these games work in "missions" that generally last about 10 minutes. As the game continues, if your 'mech or hovercraft is destroyed... you get a new one and get to keep going until time is up.
These are lots of fun. Your chairman thinks these may have been the best video games ever invented... and they were invented right here in Chicago.
The BattleTech pods will be free to play for all Chicon 7 members (as will our classic arcade games), as long as the concouse is open (noon until - 10 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday).
If you'd like to learn more about the Pods, check out www.mechjock.com and
getinthepods.com/pilot-experience/. Or watch the video below to get a feel for the gameplay.