The amazing alternative controllers of the ALT.CTRL.GDC exhibit


A new alternative controller exhibit made its debut at GDC this year. Amazing selections from 14 independent teams were shown at ALT.CTRL.GDC on the GDC show floor yesterday, and every one of them had my imagination running. Everything from 16-button arcade sticks to tents that you stick your face in while wearing a caterpillar suit were featured and open for play.

We’ve rounded up some of the best alternative controllers from the showing to share with you today. You’ve never seen controllers like these.

Tenya Wayna Teens

Katamari Damacy director Keita Takahashi had his hand in this project, working alongside Wild Rumpus and Venus Patrol to make a really weird experience. This 16-button stick is a party game for two players, and both will be scrambling to keep on top of things. As for what it’s about, you can’t beat the official description:

Tenya Wayna Teens is a coming-of-age tale about love, hygiene, monsters and finding discarded erotic magazines in the woods.


Choosatron is a lovely little wooden arcade box with only a few buttons and no display. Instead, a printer prints out story text in a choose-your-own-adventure type game that has about 60 different outcomes. As you make your path choices, more of the story prints out on the paper. When you’ve completed the game, you’ve given a score, and you’re free to take the receipt as a souvenir. 


This is a voxel-based game that you stick your head in. You’ll move your head about in this box to navigate a 3D world that you’re free to look around in, in any direction. This picture of the outside of the box does it no justice at all. 


Finally, a caterpillar simulator. In Roflpillar, two players lay on the ground, suit up with a rainbow colored leg-covering costume, and then stick their head in a tent to look up at a screen. They’ll then wiggle around on the ground to control the caterpillar onscreen, with their squirming sending input to a hacked Gametrak controller.

Watching people suit up and play was never not funny.

Bonus Look

Bonus Look has a computer deconstructed, with parts split unevenly among two players. They’ll have to work together as a team, with the pilot calling out cues from looking at his screen to the other side of a partition, where the other player has the only controls. 

A Dozen Sliders

Imagine Flappy Bird, but you won’t control the bird. Instead, touch-sensitive sliders let you control the pipes.

A Dozen Sliders lets you pull up and down on sliders that look like they’re straight off a recording studio mixing board. What’s neat is that it works as a local multiplayer game, as friends can jump in and grab any free sliders to help out. Other included minigames use the sliders in equally creative ways.


The controller for MCMC might not look as exciting as some of the others, but the draw here is fine control of three degrees of movement. The game shown has a focus on rotation, which adds a new… twist to game control. 

Canabalt 100p

A modification of Winnitron’s Canabalt 2p has players mashing on a musical keyboard, using it as a controller to jump 100 characters at once. Or at least try to. People tried everything to succeed while using this 61-button controller, plopping their forearms down on as many keys as they could, or enlisting others to man a section of keys. 

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Dale North
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