Free Play Arcade in Fort Worth Is Throwing a Hacker Party This Weekend


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There was a time, long, long time ago when the world didn’t have a magic cloud to hold every file they own.

The data had to be stored on hard drives or a so-called floppy disk, a type of hard copy memory in which small plastic disks covered with magnetic material with concentric rings held various files. People used them to organize their important tax records, shareware games, and the romantic science fiction novel that they swore they would end but never did.

“I was an AOL script kid in the mid-1990s when I was 12 or 13,” says Corey Hyden, the owner of the Free Play Arcade chain. “You weren’t a real hacker, but you thought you were. You’d type where every other letter is capitalized and go into the chat rooms and think you’re really cool. As part of that, they have these diskette stores and you would offer to trade some who had some type of hacking software or hacking tips and tricks. ”

It’s been years since the average person saw any of those artifacts of pop-tech nostalgia (unless your job is to seriously monitor the communications systems for the nation’s nuclear arsenal), but you will be able to and get your hands on the mysterious software stored on them when you attend a special “Hack the Planet” celebration at Free Play’s Fort Worth location on Friday night.

The special hacking event takes place on the roof of the arcade and includes a demonstration of the 1995 tech-action classic Hackers with Angelina Jolie and Matthew Lillard in one of their first major breakout roles and live music from the retroware record spinner DJ VIC- 20th

Hyden’s concept for a hacking party with a mysterious’ 90s tech-themed giveaway quickly went viral and the event quickly sold out. He showed one of the first panes to someone who was excited at the sight, says Hyden.

“They said, ‘I don’t even have a floppy disk drive, but can I keep that as a souvenir?’ Then the light bulb went out. “- Corey Hyden

“They said, ‘I don’t even have a floppy disk drive, but can I keep that as a memento?'” Says Hyden. “That was when the light bulb went out. It was something that was ubiquitous and now they’re gone. It’s a real souvenir from 1995, however you look at it.”

Hyden dived headlong into the concept of the party by collecting as many working 3.5-inch high-density disks as possible and ending up with a supply of 800 disks. He and his administrative assistant spent hours formatting, labeling, and loading retro programs that 90s computer users saw as useful trick files like a fake Windows Blue Screen of Death screensaver and some collectibles of press packs from the original Hackers -Film felt.

The rest of the disk contents are a surprise.

“I was really scared of giving people a floppy disk with something on it,” says Hyden. “Even though they are freely distributed and Microsoft says they can be distributed, giving people a floppy disk is a terrible endeavor. If you don’t know what you’re doing, please don’t use that floppy disk. We’re not. ” We have the right to sell anything. It’s free. Ask your mother or elder aunt if they don’t know how to use a floppy disk. ”

Of course, having a hacking party or gathering during these troubled times is just as difficult as finding a floppy disk drive. All social distancing and masking protocols will be enforced throughout the event, and the arcade and seating will be 6 feet apart during the performance.

“I think it’s going to be a really good test of events in this transition period while we’re leaving the coronavirus and somehow still getting into it.”

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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written articles, essays, and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET, and The Onion AV Club.

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