Interactive Media – Museum of Play Write-up

One type of interface that I played with was a giant rotating sphere that was made out of plastic and had a ball with a tilt maze inside of it. The sphere could be rotated on two different axises. It reminded me of a tilt-a-maze, except much harder and in three dimensions. I found it very hard just to get the ball onto the track, since it started out on the floor of the sphere outside of the maze. After many minutes of fiddling with it, I finally found out how to get the ball onto the maze by lining it up in a certain way against the side of a plastic platform and then carefully tilting the sphere so that the track would lift the ball up until the track became level again. However, after all that work, the ball didn’t go very far on the track before it came to a dead end and expected you to make a leap of faith over to the next section of track. This of course failed and I walked away in frustration. Overall, I like the concept of it and the physical motion of spinning the sphere is pleasing, but I think it would be better if there was a way to make it less challenging and less frustrating. Maybe a bigger ball, a bigger track, or higher fences around the track.

Another kind of interface that I tried was Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. I have played this game before, but I was surprised at how stiff the controls felt, especially the walking and running with the control stick. I found it very hard to get Mario to run. I felt like I had to use excessive force on the control stick just to make him run at all, and even when he did run, I felt like the change in speed was so insignificant that it didn’t help me avoid obstacles.

I also tried out the Guitar Hero game. What I like about the interface is that they managed to place the buttons in a way so that when you hold the controller, it looks just like how you would hold a real guitar. However, I don’t like that there are 5 buttons in a row when you have only 4 fingers available for movement there (your thumb has to stay wrapped around in order for you to hold the controller). Since there are 5 buttons and only 4 fingers, I often would get my fingers mixed up and slide my hand down 1 button too far. The buttons are also big and clunky, and are too close together, so it’s easy to hit one button while accidentally hitting the edge of another button, causing you to lose points. The buttons are lined up all against a hard, straight rectangular edge, which doesn’t lend itself to the way fingers bend in a more arc-like motion. Perhaps it would be better if this interface was modified to be softer and more molded to the shape that the fingers move in. There is also the issue of the last 2 fingers being weaker than the first two fingers, yet still being expected to hit buttons of equal height and with the same strength. I also found that after playing for 40 minutes on more difficult songs, that the motion of hitting the buttons on both the handle and the base of the guitar caused both my hands to cramp up.

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