The Time Machine and The Voodoo Doll: Exploring customized computer game controllers and their influence on the experience of play

Oliver Bo Wolter Nielsen, Miriam Krebs, Jake Sødring Sølberg, Michael Holton Hovgaard, Nicolai Staal Hansen, Bjørn Dalsgaard Hansen, Lasse Juel Larsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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This paper turns attention towards an overlooked area of research: the cus-tomized computer game controller and its influence on the experience of play. Through two experimental design cases of customized game controllers, a time machine and a voodoo doll, we challenge the present theoretical assumptions inherently at play about game controllers: the Heideggerian binary paradigm where computer game controllers are either “visible” or “invisible’’. Moving beyond this philosophical paradigm, we propose a fresh new theoretical take where customized controllers situate themselves in a third position of being simultaneously “visible” and “invisible”. This third position, we discovered, transformed the game controllers into physical game objects. Thus, the customized game controllers belonged to the game world and simultaneously acted as traditional controllers. During play the customized computer game controllers managed to draw attention to themselves without “breaking” immersion. Consequently, the customized game controllers challenged the dominant thinking about game controllers together with the theoretical backdrop on which the predominant conceptions of immersion rest. Following, we challenge the theoretical conditions upon which the present understandings of immersion are erected. Furthermore, we will advance a revitalized comprehension of the structural pattern and process of interaction between the player, the game controller, and the game world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInteractivity and Game Creation : 9th EAI International Conference, ArtsIT 2020, Aalborg, Denmark, December 10–11, 2020, Proceedings
EditorsAnthony Brooks, Eva Irene Brooks, Duckworth Jonathan
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-73425-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-73426-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventEAI ArtsIT 2020 - 9th EAI International Conference: ArtsIT, Interactivity & Game Creation - Cyberspace
Duration: 10. Dec 202011. Dec 2020
Conference number: 9th


ConferenceEAI ArtsIT 2020 - 9th EAI International Conference
Internet address
SeriesLecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering


  • Customized game controllers
  • Design
  • Immersion
  • Ludology
  • Player experience
  • Theory


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