Project in collaboration: Jayme Cochrane, Travis Kirton

In the field of interactive installation artwork, GameArt interfaces have been extremely popular means of expression. In most cases GameArt pieces take single concepts, standarized and popularized throughout the history of computer gaming, and expand on them through new forms of interface design, computational design, or enhanced graphic environments.

PunchOut is an artistic installation that remediates the classic Nintendo game of the same title. It achieves its classification through the design of a custom interface that forces participants into a full-bodied experience. The major components of this interface are a padded interactive screen, and a robust floor controller. These two interface components map directly to the controls of the game’s original interface: the classic square controller (buttons: up, down, left, right, select, start, a, b). Additionally, the installation “fights back” with a player… When the character on-screen is hit during a boxing match, the installation briefly flashes bright light in attempt to create a sense of disorientation for the player. The physicality of punching the soft screen, hopping back and forth in all directions, and the consequences of being “hit” amount to a physically embodied experience of a game that was originally playable only with one’s fingertips. The artistic purpose behind the design of this installation is to explore the possibilities of expanding old games and old technologies to create new experiences using low-level technical approaches to new media interaction.

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This project was originally conceived for the Interfaces For Games workshop conducted by Phd candidate Mika Satomi at the Interface Culture department, University of Art and Design Linz. The entire project uses publicly available materials, and is constructed using Max/MSP, opensource hardware (Arduino), studio flashes and DIY sensors designed and constructed by the artists. All of these components come together in a full-body experience of a classic game, that is, they augment rather than recreating the original playability.

A soft screen is mounted inside a wooden frame that houses the entire installation, including the computer. Lights are hidden to the sides of the soft screen and flash whenever the player’s digital character is hit, in attempt to cause persistence of vision and some visual disorientation. The sensors used in the soft screen, as well as within the padded floor controls, are an original design conceived and developed by the artist.

The construction is simple, using basic components such as wires, foam and metallic tape. The concept behind the sensors was to create a simple, cheap, robust solution which can be easily fabricated. The artists have provided open access to the design, through the form of a tutorial, made available on the internet. These sensors are wired to a game controller so that the play is kept in identical fashion to the original style.

The original game is untouched, custom software tracks the computer screen and registers when a player is hit by his opponent. When the software registers a hit, the system triggers lights to the sides of the screen (peripheral vision) to flash in order to create a sense of disorientation.

This piece was exhibit first time in “Over Games” exhibition in Sevilla curated by Zemos98 and Flavio Escribano. The piece is explain the DIY done in: http://www.instructables.com/id/PunchOut-The-Real-Installation/