The carpet-treadmill zombie games and intimidating space submarines of GDC's Alt.Ctrl

The power of custom game controls steal the spotlight at GDC's Alt.Ctrl exhibit.

IDG

IDG

Custom controls. It’s the aspect of arcade cabinets I miss most. Sure, I know why home gaming gravitated towards mouse/keyboard and gamepads—jack of all trades, master of none. We can do pretty much anything with a keyboard, without the need for a closet full of one-time-use peripherals and landfills packed with plastic trash.

There’s something fascinating about fully custom control interfaces though: The dual "root beer" taps of Tapper, the oversized yoke of Atari's Star Wars, Battlezone’s joystick tank controls, the iconic Rock Band guitar. Think of them as gaming’s waffle maker, lacking in versatility but excellent at fulfilling a single purpose.

And that’s what makes GDC’s Alt.Ctrl exhibit so much fun each year. Drawing on the arcade tradition, Alt.Ctrl shows off games with fully-custom controls, be it a carpet-treadmill you drag to pull a zombie forward, an extensive spaceship cockpit complete with powered fan, an emotion-sensing AI looking to capture rogue humans, or a game played by scratching a record.

There’s also some sort of crazy...cat-thing?

We took a quick tour through the fourth annual Alt.Ctrl last week during GDC, trying to showcase some of the best ideas on display. They may be totally impractical for your living room, and even (in many cases) impractical for an arcade, but it sure is more interesting than the ol’ mouse and keyboard combo.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Hayden Dingman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?