VIA 2013: Johann Sebastian Joust

I feel like the performers at VIA dwarfed some of the other equally engaging exhibits offered. In particular, I’m quite glad that I had the opportunity to experience the interactive games being showcased in one of the auxiliary rooms. The most noteworthy, in my opinion, had to be Johann Sebastian Joust.

Johann Sebastian Joust! from Die Gute Fabrik on Vimeo.

The game’s goal was simple. Each person was given a PS3 motion controller that could only move as fast as the music was playing. As a player, your goal was to try and bump the controllers of other players without being bumped yourself. If your controller moved too fast, you were out. Music accompanied the game, and the faster the music, the faster you could safely move your controller.

The “video game” was just barely that; the game used game controllers and speakers, but required almost no other direct interaction with a computer, visual or otherwise. It was more of a game, in the classical sense, enhanced with a thoughtfully simple twist of technology. The level of interaction with the game was just enough to give it some structure, leaving the rest up to the space of the playing area and to the interaction between players. The effect of having people interact more with each other and less with some non-human element had a number of awesome outcomes. It brought friendly competition, interesting discussion, and spectator-sport-like crowd enthusiasm, despite the smaller, darkly lit space that the game was hosted in.

The game’s site promises a publicly available PC / PS3 version of the game in the near future, but is currently only available at specially hosted events (a quick google of the game’s name provides a list of places to try it out). If you ever get the chance to play Johann Sebastian Joust, I can’t recommend it enough.

Post by Salem Hilal.

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