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Reach out and touch  Angry Birds
Reach out and touch Angry Birds Exclusive
August 17, 2012 | By Mike Rose

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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Matt Robb
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While it's clever and amusing, these kinds of gadgets usually end up being used for a few hours, ignored for awhile, then end up stored/sold/trashed.

Jon Ze
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This is an awkward way to interact with the game. Gripping a physical object and pulling it from the side of your screen does not have quite the same feedback interaction that pulling with your mouse or finger does. You're recreating a 2D slide in a 3D space, which creates a strong disconnect. When you slide with your finger, you're honoring the 2D-ness of the Angry Birds world.

This device would also create an inconvenience when lining-up shots, where scrolling the scene back and forth with your mouse or finger is a useful aide.

Thomas Baltzer
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No fun allowed, eh?

Ian Nancarrow
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@Thomas - More or less a major disconnect from the experience. While cute and interesting in theory, I couldn't find myself preparing each shot for what should be a 10 second game.

Unless the slingshot was actually required to play Super Angry Birds, or if there were multiple peripheral-required minigames that enhanced the experience of using one, I just can't find a real reason to own this other than conversation material at an office.

Ara Shirinian
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A critical part of good haptic design is the usability of the haptics in the first place, which is more important than making a good thematic map, or a cool looking instrument.

If I were in their shoes I would have utilized a heavy feeling/stable dial that would allow precise angle adjustments, and a slingshot component that did not depend on you holding the angle component steady in order to modulate the other part.

Thomas Grove
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Props to Spitz and Matsui for making something neato. @ArmchairExperts: You guys realize this is a school project right?

Ara Shirinian
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Does the reality that this is a school project make it any less important to evaluate their work with a critical eye and suggestions for improvement?

rebecca Williams
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Although this is a very cute controller, I think that the mouse or finger is an easier and more interctive way to play the game. Also when people buy controllers like that they use them for a short while then discard them or store them away and forget about them.

Neko Otome
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Id buy one. Touchscreen controls are crap, even for this game. Its very hard to be precise