Reach Out And Touch Games: Leap Motion 3D Jam

Please excuse me using a boring-o marketing image rather than a rad game screenshot. I figured not everyone knows what a Leap Motion controller looks like. It's this. The sensor bar bit. Not the eerie hovering hands.

I have used a Leap Motion controller once before, to rotate a 3D wireframe mesh of a horse’s skull at an art exhibition; I found the experience lacking. But a sensor bar controller which tracks your hands via magic invisible waves sounds like it could do a lot more. So let’s have a gander at the fruits of the recent Leap Motion 3D Jam and see what some of these 158 games have come up with. I don’t have a Leap Motion so I can’t squeeze or caress the fruit myself, but we can still admire their shape and lustre and lean in for a whiff of their aroma [we can look at them -Ed.].

The game jam gave developers six weeks to make a game which uses Leap Motion, whether in its desktop form or mounted onto 3D cybergoggles for real waving-your-hands-in-front-of-your-eyes sensations, with the hope of winning cash money and shiny prizes. And maybe figuring out quite what Leap Motion is good for. It’s a peripheral which hasn’t made much of an impact, though cybergoggle fans are keen on it for the holodeck experience.

158 games were entered in all, so let’s cast our eyes down the list and have a quick look at a few. If you have a Leap Motion, you can download and play these yourself for free.

Aboard the Lookinglass is a puzzler which has players looking through their hands to reveal the past and the future. Voodoo Child is a very hands-on sailing simulator. The Box Fan wants you to put your hand somewhere unpleasant, which I’m always keen on. Hollow hands you a horse’s reins on a ride through Sleepy Hollow. Weightless is a simple hands-on touching-stuff game, but set in zero-gravity for a playful alien experience.

Then in Hammer Hands, your hands are hammers and you’re surrounded by smashable things. Graffiti 3D is 3D doodling with your fingertips. Robert Yang’s Hurt Me Plenty is about consent and “spanking the heck out of some dude.” LeapGarden lets you plant and landscape a Japanese garden, which sounds delightful. Ferarri Cops is downright absurd.

Many games were more conventional but still interesting, puzzle games and walking simulators which let players reach out and touch objects, and a number of wizard simulators about lobbing fireballs. This slightly odd selection is simply what caught my eye. Do have a dig yourself and share what you find, won’t you? Perhaps one of y’all even has a Leap Motion and might tell us all about it.


  1. Excelle says:

    Looks like someone invented the GameTheremin.

    Coming soon – Theremin Hero!

  2. Borodin says:

    Diana Ross, or Depeche Mode? I’m hoping for Personal Jesus

    • Chaz says:

      Your own personal Leap Motion controller
      Something to detect your hands
      Playing a game
      Doo dee doo dee doo

  3. Reapy says:

    I was given a leap motion randomly for my bday maybe a year or two ago, it is still sitting unopened in the box because I just don’t know what to do with it. As an old time PC user I also have pretty weak wrists that feel on the edge of carpo tunnel, and looking at how they want you to put your hands makes me cringe internally.

    Still I can see some odds and ends uses for it, perhaps in a sort of track IR replacement by hand gestures, or maybe later on paired up with an oculus rift for navigating some floaty menus. It is a shame the thing seems like a good sensor on the look out for a use that is probably going to plunge it further into obscurity.

  4. MegaAndy says:

    Well that’s my evening sorted.

    I have always wanted a physics sandbox for the leap, looks like that’s what some of these will be

  5. Jamesworkshop says:

    what about a rhythm game based on clapping

  6. airmikee says:

    It was about 20 years ago that I got my first taste of a virtual reality game, some cybercafe downtown had opened up so my friends and I went to try it out. Lawnmower Man and Johnny Mnemonic had just recently been released, so we were all pretty excited to see how far reality had come with creating virtual reality. Based on those memories and what I’ve seen so far with Oculus and this Leap Motion 3D Jam, I’m putting off any plans to try VR again for another 20 years. Nothing anyone has come up with so far comes close to matching the control and viewing abilities that a keyboard, mouse, and monitor possess.

    • Razumen says:

      By all accounts so far though, an oculus rift and a mouse and keyboard do offer a much more immersive and functional experience than a mouse/keyboard with a plain monitor. Obviously better motion controls will have to be developed to further it, but I feel you’ll be missing out if you skip the Rift.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I too had a go on a VR set about 20 years ago, and I’ve also got a DK2 and believe me there’s as big a difference in how smoothly the head tracking works as there has been in 3D graphics since then.
      Using a mouse and keyboard works just fine, until you take your hand off the keyboard and have to either flail around trying to find WASD again, or lift the headset up a bit and peak, because of this I’ve found a gamepad to be easer for most people.

  7. Synesthesia says:

    I can’t wait until we figure out haptic feedback for virtual reality. The gravity one looks incredible, but seeing your hands touching stuff, and not feeling it, there must be some uncanny valley stuff there.

    • Razumen says:

      There already are gloves out there that do this, but I believe they’re far too expensive for consumers.

      I’m imagining a sort of glove made of a material that becomes solid/slightly expands when a electric current runs through it. localize those points and you could maybe simulate touch and restricted motion at the same time.

      • P.Funk says:

        I think what would be even cooler is if there was a way for a program to tie those gloves into a camera scanner that looks at your gaming space and allows you to hold a hotkey that creates a transparent overlay so you can press button boxes or reach for a glass of water while having your OR on your head. Would be pretty cool to have physical controls in front of you that you could actually touch based on a depth perception created from the OR itself so we can blend the best of both worlds; Rift and its visual immersion with the more traditional simmer’s button box or normal gamer’s fancy peripheral stuff.

        Basically press [button], transparent wireframe of your desk and keyboard and glass of water and button box or whatever with wireframe representation of your hands in your OR field of view with the game you’re playing still in the background.

        I think that’d be really cool.

  8. Razumen says:

    I’m surprise none of them actually tried to grab any of the objects, especially the Rubik’s Cube. Obviously its going to be a bit hard without the sensation of touch, but it felt so frustrating seeing them just poke and prod everything when it looked like they had full simulated movement of their fingers.

  9. Cinek says:

    Shaky hands simulator.

  10. SpinalJack says:

    Gonna go ahead and plug my own entry: link to

  11. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Dang! I need longer days. I’ll see if I can try some of these tonight.

    One thing they got right with the Leap was the responsiveness of the thing. As originally advertised, it has very low latency, but as not originally advertised, it couldn’t gracefully handle fingers it couldn’t see. They’ve been working hard on the shortcomings, though, and the beta I tried of their v2 SDK was a little better. Still, you kinda learn not to turn your hands certain ways while using it, and it looks like that hasn’t changed much, judging by a few of those videos. I’ll be interested to see how it is now — and to see how different the latency feels once it’s stuck to a Facebrick.

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      particlese says:

      I found some time to play around with some of the demos (mostly “Forklift Derby” and “World of Comenius”), and my conclusion is that I need to properly set up the hardware when it comes to VR. I don’t have a clip for the Leap Motion, so I had to hold it to the Rift the whole time, and the Leap Motion cable was dangling in front of its cameras most of the time. The bookshelves full of stuff less than a metre away probably didn’t help, either. (My computer’s on the other side, and the cables aren’t particularly long for these things.) Oh, and the Rift is a DK1, but I don’t yet know any better.

      Thoughts with the above caveats in mind:
      -The robustness of the hand tracking is much improved since its original release and good enough for simple “let’s poke stuff” games. However, staying close to “ideal” poses (hand slightly closed and palm pointing at or away from the Leap Motion, for example) still helps with the tracking.
      -In VR, when it works, it’s totally awesome to finally see my hands and fingers waving around in front of my face. I’ve never used a Razor Hydra or a Power Glove or anything. (I did once play with a Power Glove when I was in grade school, but it wasn’t plugged into anything at the time.) When I poke things in the game, there’s also a weird phantom feeling of actually touching something. I’d probably grow accostomed to and ignore it after a while, but it’s a pretty neat substitute for haptics for now.
      -In VR, the mismatch between where my hand is in real life and in the game (nope) doesn’t seem to affect the feeling that I’m actually moving my hand around in a reasonable way. Afterwards, however, as with many novel game interactions I can remember, I was left with a sort of Tetris Effect. For a while as I wrote this post, I felt my hands were typing from somewhere above my keyboard, but they’re back where they belong, now. I think that’s less disastrous than when I couldn’t turn a doorknob properly after my first time manipulating stuff under a stereoscopic microscope for a few hours. Short-term proprioceptive adaptation FTW.
      -In VR, when the hand tracking fails, it’s immensely frustrating.
      -Without VR, tracking failures are significantly less frustrating, at least in the demos I tried.
      -Without VR, the device generally still feels a bit gimicky, but I did have some honest fun racing a forklift around a warehouse and flying a plane through a canyon.
      -I suspect frustration levels during tracking failures depend on the individual game’s handling of such things.
      -I need to try programming with this thing so I can critique more enthusiastically.
      -Good gravy, Unity is everywhere.
      -Good night.

  12. berlin3d says:

    If you like immersive 3d for leap motion and oculus rift please check my submission for the jam:

    link to