Apr 27, 2023 - News

Student-created video games trade joysticks for hoses and gearshifts

A man plays a video game in a white rocking chair, with a game controller shaped like a hose nozzle.

A student plays the video game "Get Off My Lawn!" at the University of Utah. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

From spraying children with a hose to demolishing a ghost town, a multiverse of experiences is coming to life in video games created by Utah students.

What's happening: Students in the University of Utah's video game development program unveiled their creations Wednesday in the school's first in-person expo since the pandemic began.

  • Students designed controllers for in-person use, themed to the game and, in some cases, wielded to enact mechanics a conventional joystick or gamepad can't do, instructor Ryan Bown told Axios.

Details: For example, players use a motion-sensing compass to guide a character through a castle in "Maze Compass," a time-travel puzzle game that follows a romance plot.

  • In "Demolition Gang," two partners share control of a digger and have to work together to shift levers adjusting the machine's speed, direction and boom arm to knock down buildings in a mining ghost town.
  • "Voodoo Management" uses a poppet-shaped controller to eliminate office workers' distractions and raise productivity.

Erin's thought bubble: My fave was "Get Off My Lawn!" — a target-shooting game in which the player aims a hose nozzle controller to spray animated children who trespass and throw toys around a residential yard.

  • Yes, and: You have to spray while using a rocking chair outfitted with motion sensors; if you stop rocking to focus your aim, the screen goes black because you must be taking a "nap."

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