It is Wednesday evening and Adina Shanholtz, who graduated from Oberlin College in 2015 with a double major in Computer Science and East Asian Studies, is in New York City is a sponsor at Microsoft Technology Center in Times Square. As she is presenting, Shanholtz shows me the blue and red simple-looking controller at the core of her game: a light switch panel. The inspiration for this unusual controller is children. Shanholtz’s game, “Afraid of the Dark” takes place in a child’s bedroom where the gamer can control a custom light switch controller and make monsters disappear by turning on the light for points.
“It is become a starting point example of the growing interest in games made with custom controllers,” said Shanholtz. Custom games controllers such as Shanholtz’s often associate and re-combine the digital and the physicality of gaming. They also help by creating new forms of playful experiences and changing the nature of interactivity. Examples include using old switchboards and even old wires layering around in the creation of controllers.
Shanholtz believes immersion is key for creating custom controllers since traditional home consoles and game controllers have led to the fall of popular arcade machines. Shanholtz states, “As successful as this model is, it greatly limits interactivity between player and game, and limits the possibility of a richer immersion experience.”
Adina Shanholtz said that you do not need a computer science degree or other high technology knowledge to create your first controller.
Arduino Kits provided by Shanholtz to start creating your own custom controller:
SparkFun Inventor’s Kit (for Arduino Uno) – V3.2
Adafruit ARDX – v1.3 Experimentation Kit for Arduino (Uno R3) – v1.3