Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

For Folk's Sake

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

For Folk's Sake

Article excerpt

We are circling each other, me and the tall, bearded man. As the music speeds up, he lunges, aiming for the microphone-shaped object in my hand. I spin away--too fast, as it turns out. The light bulb on top of the object turns from purple to red and it's game over for me.

I'm nearly 29 years old, so I haven't played anything approaching "tag" in public for two decades--but here I am, at the Hide and Seek Weekender at the Southbank Centre in London, making a fool of myself in front of strangers. The game we're playing is called Johann Sebastian Joust and it's an experiment by the Danish developers Die Gute Fabrik. Two to seven players hold motion-sensitive PlayStation controllers--which look like microphones with an illuminated doorknob on top--and listen to the Brandenburg Concertos. When the music starts, at a slow tempo, the controllers are extremely sensitive; as it speeds up, you can move more quickly. If you bust the limit-by lunging wildly at another player or having your controller jostled--the illuminated knob changes colour and you're out.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Shower scene

Although Johann Sebastian Joust is technically a video game, it requires no screen and no special knowledge. It is part of a growing genre called "digital folk games" that attempts to capture the experience of playground classics such as tag or grandmother's footsteps for adults.

The creator of Joust is Douglas Wilson, who is studying for a doctorate in interaction design and design theory at Copenhagen University. …

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