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Milwaukee Musician Creates Video Game Featuring Wisconsin Landmarks

Courtesy of Jordan Davis
A still image from the Space Raft video game, which is set in Wisconsin and features a lot of places related to the music scene in Milwaukee.

For Jordan Davis, the frontman of Milwaukee-band Space Raft, this time in relative lockdown has been an opportunity to finish up a project he’s been working on for two and a half years. The band just released two albums: Positively Space Raft, and its alter ego, Approximately Space Raft. The latter features chiptunes, the kind of music you’d hear in a video game, which naturally led Davis to design his own video game.

But not just any video game: a retro NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) game complete with 8-bit caricatures of the band and their trusty van. Davis didn't have any previous experience with designing video games, so he figured out how to do each part of it piece by piece.

"I just started chipping away at it and slowly but surely, you know, I was able to come out at the other end with a fully-formed videogame that’s playable on an NES cartridge," he says.

The game is set in Wisconsin and features a lot of places related to the music scene in Milwaukee, including the Cactus Club, Rushmor Records, and High Dive. The game features different formats, including levels with obstacle based scrolling and top-down action stages. 

"The objective [of the game] is to thwart our ex-bass player Srini. The premise of the game is that he came back to town to steal the master tapes of the new record, which we have to chase him down and collect them before we can put our new record out," says Davis. "That was actually a premise that was suggested by our good friend, Srini." 

Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2016.