Flipping blinds, getting kids off your lawn, and using a TV remote to thwart a dangerous killer. Play through all of these experiences and more at alt.ctrl.GDC this March. Plus: Some exciting news about 2024's alt.ctrl.GDC award!
The Game Developers Conference is thrilled to reveal the 20 games chosen to exhibit at alt.ctrl.GDC at GDC 2024. This exhibition, co-helmed by indie curator John Polson, showcases some of the most unique, offbeat, and innovative controllers in modern games.
Visitors can come into this collaborative community space to play video games using alternative controllers—and meet the developers behind these interesting projects.
Be sure to vote for your favorite exhibit at GDC 2024 to receive the coveted alt.ctrl.GDC award. Voting takes place at the exhibit on the Expo Floor Wednesday, March 20.
This year, for the first time, the alt.ctrl.GDC award will be presented live onstage at the 2024 Independent Games Festival Awards, part of the longest-running festival, summit, and showcase celebrating independent games and their creators.
Here is this year's roster of finalists:
996 Tech (Yue [Krystal] Huang, Yijia Guo, Zhuoran Ma): A two-player racing game that challenges traditional game controllers by having players race on the toilet seats instead of using the racing gamepad or steering wheels.
BARC (Interactive Materials Lab): A game that utilizes a barcode scanner as the only input system. Coupled with a receipt printer, the game requires players to scan both physical and on-screen digital barcodes, engaging players with familliar objects while blending tangible and virtual interactions.
Bib Goes Home Lowtek Light book (Lowtek Games): This game uses a popup book as the display and input device for pages. It automaticaly detects what page your on and displays the corect level. Its an inworld shared AR experience.
Boss,Blinds,Brandy (Wataru Nakano × MIYAZAWORKS): This is a game of two-player fighting by flipping the blinds.Charge the energy with swirling the glass and flip the blinds to fire the laser beam!And you will win the game when you make the opponent lose the health bar to zero.
Chairdevil (Bobby Lockhart and Andy Saia): Chairdevil allows players to use their own wheelchair (or our loaner wheelchair) to control an onscreen daredevil wheelchair athlete. Players have direct control of the showboating wheelchair stuntman as he navigates speed boosts, bumps, ramps, rails, bounce pads, and more.
Channel: Death (David Antognoli, Ian Beckman, Michael Vaughn Green): An installation-based digital escape room where players use a vintage television remote and an old-fashioned pen and paper to solve puzzles, complete minigames, and thwart the nefarious Broadcast Killer.
Chú Mó (The Chú Mó Team @ ArtCenter): The main theme of Chú Mó is based on Chinese exorcism culture. The main inspiration comes from Taoist exorcism rituals and artifacts. We wanted to create an interactive experience of Chinese exorcism through using ancient magical tools, allowing players to participate in this thrilling ritual.
Competitive Waffle Game (Daniel Medrano): These custom alt-control inputs elevate the game and give it a unique and fun experience. Players use actual waffle irons and a cup as inputs. When eating, the iron becomes the player's jaws!
Get Off My Lawn! (Marc-Julian "MJ" Galicha, Saurabh Sood, Christopher Jones, Jessy Tang, Sandy Sang, William Rockwell, Shubham More, Landon Beaty, Avni Shelke, Deniece Radford): Delivers a truly distinctive and 'alt' gaming experience by transforming familiar, real-world elements—a rocking chair, drink, and garden hose—into parts of a controller responsible for integral gameplay mechanics.
Grapple Fisher DX (Nick Maglio, Max Kenny, Sean Walsh, Jacob Abrams): This game uses motion controls for movement, and during the fishing minigame it utilizes an LED to indicate how much time is left to fill the rod with beer.
JETCola (Tamakotronica): JETCola is an arcade game that anyone can enjoy and get excited about, played by shaking a bottle-shaped controller. Aim for outer space by shaking the bottle and blowing cola!
Limbitless Redline (Limbitless Solutions): A 1-4 player motorcycle racing game that uses a proprietary electromyograph (EMG) sensor based controller that reads the users flex for acceleration. The game combines elements from Excitebike, Black Emperor, and Road Rash in a battle royale racing experience. Players must avoid obstacles and stay on the road while being careful to not over heat.
Miniature Nightmares (Team Lose Ctrl): In our childhood, we used to play with toys, and let our imagination breathe vivid life into our playthings; we'd smash our action figures together, while picturing a mighty clash between superheroes; we'd plow through walls of building blocks, pretending to be some sort of mighty beast. Miniature Nightmares marries this youthlike whimsy of tangible toys with the full advantage of digital spaces.
Mosquito Escape (Yuhan [Coco] Ma, Xiangrui [Siro] Zeng, Xiao Tan): We all have the experience of waking up to a mosquito's buzzing noise on a hot summer night. When that happens, our instinct is to kill the mosquito as fast as possible, by whatever it takes! But what is it like to be a mosquito, whose only goal is to survive from human's brutal massacre? Mosquito Escape is a game that brings players on a mosquito's journey of survival to escape a human household.
Puppet Master (Timsiss): This game put inside a bear 4 joysticks that you can control by yourself. To move, you have to simulate a walk with the 2 joysticks linked to the legs, the more dynamic you are the more faster you will be with the character.
Round The Valley (Esbor Studios): An experience blending train driving gameplay and visual novel storytelling. As students, we wanted to emphasize on two main feelings: immersion and contemplation. This ambition gave birth to our alternative controller: a toy-ified train control board, handbuilt with scrap wood and metal and some Arduino (IR, buttons...).
Runaway Robbers (The Velocity Vandals): This game is completely playable without ever having to look at the screen. All the information the player needs is communicated through the controller. We include a screen primarily for an audience to watch. They can see what intersections are being controlled and where collisions are happening.
Sky Ladder Repair (Andrew Qiu, Ben Courtemanche, Hangjiatai Dakota Du, Kitty Chen, Samuel Wang, Sadira Kooblal-Caesar, Souwei Sun): The climber, using a specially designed drill controller connected to a ladder controller, mimics real-world actions. The construction belt with three distinct, color-coded drill bits enables precise repairs by matching them with the color of neon sign's required bit type. And press the drill onto the repair panel to fix the signs.
Terror TV (Dean Debono, Paige Plowman): This game takes some of the most regular everyday actions—speaking and emoting—and built an entire game around them. By giving the players speaking topics and requirements (ex. during ad reads, the player must remain smiling the entire time), while roughly grading their performances, the game guides and encourages players to improvise and have fun in a way that wouldn’t be the same if players were just choosing dialogue options.
Weirdows '98 (Collin Rehmeyer, Samantha Trimboli, Xinyu Ai, Zhaojia Guo, and Dazhou Hou): The traditional input system on a PC would be the keyboard and mouse, but have you ever thought about using the actual computer? In Weirdows '98, the team has put together an operational "fake computer" that players must interact with to progress through the game. This is done by using an Arduino hidden inside the computer case.
The alt.ctrl.GDC showcase takes place March 20 to March 22, during the final three days of GDC 2024 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. For those eager to see these incredible controllers for themselves, make sure to buy a pass for GDC 2024!
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