Alternate controlers and musical interfaces

In The convergence of alternate controllers and musical interfaces in interactive entertainment, Tina Blaine examines the emergence and acceptance ofof alternate/breakthrough game controllers.

She starts off by describing how the game industry is seeking new ways to extend the “gamer” demographic or attract new players and that "many consumers are intimidated by traditional video game controller devices" (which was the rationale behind the Nintendo Wii but the paper is form 2005). She then focuses here review controllers for music applications. She shows how alternate controllers have achieved status as a critical component of gameplay, resulting in more fun user experience. Limiting her reasoning to music game controllers, she concludes that:

"In all of these systems encumbered or not, the players’ physical interactions appear to enhance the feeling of immersion in the games and distract from varying degrees of latency inherent in the responsiveness of the sesystems. Generally, the latency is less noticeable at easier levels of gameplay and doesn’t become problematic until faster execution at more advanced levels is required. Until studies inthis area are conducted, it remains a mystery as to whether or not players are content with controllers that lack complexity but are simply fun to play. (...) opportunities have arisen for third party developers to provide “unofficial” spin-off versions of controllers as accessories for games. These are often offered more inexpensively at the same or higher quality as the large developers, and bypass the need for consumers to purchase software in order to get an extra hardware device."

People interested in knowing more should read the paper and focus in particular on Table 1 that interestingly compares videogame toy devices (Beatmania, DDR...), the purposes of the controllers, the actions that can be performed, the effectiveness as well as the "musical expression intention".

Why do i blog this? collecting new material about gestural interactions for a research project. To some extent, the paper advocates for the benefits from having a "Convergence of Alternate Controllers and Musical Interfaces". It would be good to do the same analysis with sport/arcade game controllers (from power glove to the bodypad) and analyze the idiosyncrasies of each activities (physical or musical).

Blaine, T (2005). The Convergence of Alternate Controllers and Musical Interfaces in Interactive Entertainment. Proceedings of NIME 2005: 27-33