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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?