Tired of your gaming controller or your mouse-keyboard combo? Maybe using a traditional Japanese bow as an interface for a FPS game would be more up your alley.
Masasuke Yasumoto of Tokyo University of Technology seems to think that bows make far better interfaces than conventional gaming controllers, even if in kyudo (traditional Japanese archery) the bow is sometimes taller than the archer. In Light Shooter, the FPS game that Yasumoto developed, the role of the shooting device is taken by a yumi, as traditional Japanese bows are called.
Light Shooter is meant to be played in a darkened room. The player holds a long flexible bamboo pole and draws it in order to shoot animals and figures drawn with lines and dots on a wall. Since using real arrows would have decreased the overall playing speed, Yasumoto decided that it’s better to just draw the bow and shoot into thin air.
Still, some system must be used so that the game knows which animals have been shot. For this, the developer made use of a strain gauge that measures how hard the bow is drawn, and hence how far the virtual arrow goes. On top of that, acceleration and magnetic sensors were added for increased accuracy. A computer is used for calculating the path of the virtual arrow, and supposing that the player aimed properly, the target literally explodes on screen. Personally, I’m very curious to see how an explosion of lines and dots looks like.
In an interview for DigInfo TV, Yasumoto stated: “The advantage of using real equipment is the gear itself teaches you how to handle it. Rather than reading in a manual, ‘Press button A, press button B,’ in this game, the gear itself teaches you, with no manual needed.”
Yasumoto won’t stop here with the development of his unusual gaming interface. He plans to include a laser projector and a smartphone into the grip, so that the game becomes more immersive and the 3D experience gets more realistic.
The best part about using a traditional Japanese bow as a gaming interface is that once you get out of the room, you’re basically able to draw a real bow in real life. Just don’t go outside and start shooting strangers, as that’s certainly not a thing that Yasumoto would want.