If you can’t take your partner away from his videogames, you can incorporate yourself into his routine in a way that’s fun, and could get pretty steamy, for you both. That seems to be the aim of Intimate Controllers, a thesis project created by NYU grad student Jennifer Chowdhury.
The project involves building game controllers into underwear so that players have to touch each other in order to play. The idea is to construct controllers in a manner that will bring couples together instead of breaking them apart.
Jennifer cites her first and foremost point of inspiration as the phenomenon of ‘gamer widowhood’: a situation she describes as “where man plus videogame lead to very sad woman, or even worse to woman giving man the finger and leaving him.” Writes Jennifer: “I wanted to create a type of video game play that would center around a couple’s intimacy and where two people would touch each other in order to play the game.”
She describes two other catalysts for the project, the first being the evolution of video game controllers, through which people have gone from having to use their hands to having a hands-free experiences, or experiences that require people to move their bodies to play. The second is an exercise given to her class that required students to create any kind of interface that could work as a networked objects pong controller, while sending it left and right values.
Jennifer’s response to the exercise was to embed sensors into a bra. “I made a pong controller that was made from a bra. The mapping for the controller was simple – touching the left breast made the pong paddle go left and the right breast made the paddle go right.”
She also created a controller to be worn by the man, in the form of a pair of boxers that has 6 sensors. The operation requires the man stands behind woman giving each partner access to the other’s sensors.
The controller is structured so that as players move to higher levels in the game, they necessarily interact with each other in a manner that is more physically intimate.
The project consists of fSRs, atmel chips, Xbees, clothing and a flash game — while Jennifer originally planned for her controller to be used with existing video games, after not finding any games that were appropriate for her purposes, she had another student, Sinan Ascioglu, program a game for the project.
Whether this particular project is really going to take off commercially remains to be seen: for one thing games would have to be developed that suit the nature of these ‘sexual’ controllers. From what I could see, apart from the sexual nature of the players’ interaction with each other, the game itself didn’t lend itself to being too exciting or active — it seemed to consist of a bunch of shapes floating across the screen.
Developing physical, but less explicitly sexual controllers, is another direction in which the devices could be developed, as couples who want to interact or be intimate through video gaming might not always want to interact in a sexual manner.
Whatever the outcome, Intimate Controllers is undeniably an innovative endeavor, one that has got people thinking along the desirable lines about how technology can be used to better relationships.