Super Street Fire is both a live-action homage to the ’90s videogame Street Fighter 2 and a DIY passion project that took 18 months, 70 volunteers, and over $35,000 to create. More importantly, it’s the most tangible thing yet produced by Toronto’s “maker” culture.
Unveiled at Amsterdam Brewery last Saturday, SSF is a videogame-cum-art project spearheaded by Seth Hardy, co-founder of communal “maker space” Site 3 coLaboratory. The game features two players squaring off on raised platforms, wearing motion-sensing gloves that wirelessly control propane-fuelled jets of flame that erupt between them. It’s intended to be a real-life mimic of Street Fighter. (No surprise, it’s going to Burning Man this month.)
Site 3 is based near Bloor and Ossington, where the organization’s 60 members work with drill presses, lathes, computers, laser cutters, and 3D printers. Jonathan M. Guberman, a board member of Site 3, believes maker groups are “a physical manifestation of classic internet user groups.”
Hence the focus on videogames and other geek-culture standbys. Matt Ratto, director of ThingTank Labs at the University of Toronto, sees more potential in these kinds of projects: “If you really want to go beyond the one-offs,” he said, “you need to think about the business aspect.” (That’s why he created ThingTank, which tries to connect local makers to small businesses in order to find a
market for inventions.)
No one was thinking of business on Saturday, as the crowd yelled “fight” and watched the two combatants do battle.
MC Sketchy the Clown tried to instill a do-or-die competitiveness, but the atmosphere was carnivalesque, winners and losers alike having a ball playing with fire. A happy and relieved Hardy summed it up: “Fire is fun.”