We’ve seen our fair share of strange videogame interfaces. Someone played Counter-Strike, an FPS, with a steering wheel, while another masochist played the Souls games with a guitar. Displays can be just as silly, and our favourite is Quake on an oscilloscope.
However, the new king of eccentric game controllers must be Line Wobbler: a 1-dimensional game that is controlled with a door stop and displayed on a strip of LEDs.
Okay, it’s less crazy than it sounds. A spring door stop does bear an uncanny resemblance to a joystick, so the leap isn’t that big, and it’s what creator Robin Baumgarten thought of when he saw a cat playing with one in a Youtube video. Turning the humble door stop into a joystick required an accelerometer which provided input to an Arduino Uno.
With the controls sorted, there needed to be a game to play and Line Wobbler plays out in one dimension on a strip of LEDs. The player character is a a green dot that has to be guided to the top of the LED strip. Along the way they’ll encounter red dots – or ‘enemies’ – that move at different speeds. The player ‘fights’ the enemies by violently twanging the spring – although they have to be careful because a mis-timed attack will cause their avatar to explode and they’ll have to restart the level. Currently there are ten levels which even includes lava obstacles and a boss fight.
Baumgarten’s project came together in only 48 hours for a game jam. Since then Line Wobbler has gone to various countries around the world and been featured in shows such as Burning Man, A MAZE in both Johannesburg and Berlin and GDC. At GDC, videogame veteran Tim Schafer said that it was “one of his favourite things” from the show.