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Reach out and touch Angry Birds

The Super Angry Birds project brings a tactile sensation back to the touchscreen-only Angry Birds via a custom controller, from a duo who wants to bring controllers back in fashion.
Finding new ways to experience games that you've already played to death can be gloriously refreshing, especially when presented in a relatively unique way. Super Angry Birds may walk the line by riffing off one of the most successful franchises ever created, but from the look of it, it leaves us wondering "why has no-one thought of doing this before?" The concept was brought to fruitition by Andrew Spitz and Hideaki Matsui as part of a haptics project at The Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, in which the duo looked to use inspiration from more traditional analog games like Battleship and 'rubber band guns' to bring tactile feedback to a popular video game. "We wanted to bring the physicality and simple playfulness of these games to a modern game like Angry Birds," explains Spitz to Gamasutra. "Angry Birds is such a fun game, and taking the slingshot out of the computer and into our hands is something we just couldn't resist." Super Angry Birds is a USB-powered slingshot which can be tilted to aim your Angry Bird on screen, then pulled back and fired to the particular degree of power needed. A video (below) released just over a week ago has already received over half a million views, with plenty of positive comments from Angry Birds fanatics to boot. Spitz believes that, while we have plenty of great ways to interact with video games in this modern age -- touch, voice and motion-tracking to name a few -- there is still "a big difference between touching an image behind glass and touching something physical."

"So much from our digital world has shifted from the tangible to the intangible," he adds. "Even though in most contexts a purely digital interaction is very efficient, certain interactions, such as gaming, are amazing opportunities for adding a physical element." Spitz loves the idea of platform and game developers opening up their code a little more and allowing the DIY community to experiment and iterate on various base experiences. "Imagine the interesting interpretations of the best way to play a game would be if left to the people that actually play them?" he questions. As for the future of Super Angry Birds and other possible controllers from Spitz and Matsui, the duo is definitely hoping to explore other games too. "There is something really fun and challenging about taking a game, and building a custom controller bespoke to that game," says Spitz. "It's such a nice touch when you are able to play using a physical controller tailored to the game. As interaction designers, we spend most of our time playing, hacking, prototyping, and exploring technology so creating game controllers for other games totally fits our idea of a fun project!" And Spitz has a final message for Rovio: "We would absolutely love to turn this one-off prototype into a controller available for everyone."

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