Experimental Game Controller? I Know What You Theremin

Theramin game controller video still

How do you make Super Hexagon even bloody harder to play? Why, you chuck a weird musical instrument into the mix, of course. The theramin: it’s the new precision controller.

Here’s a neat video shot at the 2014 ZooMachines Festival, demonstrating one of the projects assembled in 48 hours as part of the festival’s gamejam. It’s a home-made controller that uses a theremin as input source, here used to play various simple games (including my beloved Super Hexagon).

I’ve never had the opportunity to play with a theremin; my experience of them is largely limited to watching videos of cats ‘playing’ them. I have however played around with something a bit like one, which following a bit of confused searching of Wikipedia and Google Images I think might have been an electro-theremin. It was a wooden box with a hole in it and it made odd noises when you waved your hand around the hole. It went pretty well with the aggressive synth / hardcore punk fusion its owner used to play. I’m sure he would be pretty good at Super Hexagon with a theremin, eh?

If the above video wasn’t quite enough of a gaming/theremin fix for you, here’s an old post in which Adam wrote about Skylight. Before today it was the only time we’d covered the theremin, and then only because Skylight’s creator wrote a neat guide on how to accomplish “therafiltering“. There’s also that Super Mario Bros played with a theremin video from a few years back. It’s pretty fun, but clearly not the easiest way to play Mario. Ooh, theragoagain.

[If you’re interested in ZooMachines Festival 2015, registrations aren’t yet open but you can, aha, register an interest. The festival and the organisation behind it are run for the benefit of the games industry in Northern France and Wallonia (the largely French-speaking southern bit of Belgium), so to be honest I don’t know how many people reading this will be interested, but hey I don’t judge how people holiday.]

10 Comments

  1. blind_boy_grunt says:

    if you don’t know about the theremin let Jon Spencer enlighten you: link

  2. Doc Revelator says:

    I play the theremin (it’s theremin, not therAmin, Shaun) myself – it’s hard enough as a musical instrument, but as a game controller it must be insane. Great stuff!

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      Adam Smith says:

      I checked the post this morning, so I’ll take the blame for the therAmins. Fixed ’em now.

      I’ve never seen a theremin up close and have always (somewhat lazily) assumed I mainly hear them during the title screens of old sci-fi films. I’d love to hear one played in person.

    • Niko says:

      You do? RPS audience is the best!

  3. airmikee says:

    I always thought Tetrisphere would be fun to play with a theremin, making music and controlling the game at the same time.