Soon gamers won’t just be wrestling with their controllers. The controllers will be fighting back.

“Button-mashing” used to be entirely a matter of player skill meeting the impossible difficulty of a game, ultimately ending with the controller being hurled at the screen in frustration. Engineers from the University of Utah are taking the concept to the next level with a new videogame controller. Unveiled at the Haptics Symposium in Vancouver (“a conference organised to highlight the latest research into the sense of touch”), the new device promises to pull and stretch “the skin of its users’ thumbs,” mimicking everything from the recoil of a gun to the tug of a fishing line:

“In the centre of the thumbsticks there’s a little contact bud that is similar to what you have on a Thinkpad laptop – a little red dot,” Prof William Provancher from the university’s department of mechanical engineering told the BBC.

“In our case that dot moves, and when it moves it provides touch feedback which allows us to enhance sensations such as gunfire.

“The feeling is very similar to what you get if you place your finger down on a table top and drag it across – it stretches the skin. In this particular case the tugging on your skin is happening because of the motion-device mechanism beneath the thumbsticks.”

This is a far cry from the rumble pack, people. Just imagine the epic battles between you and your Joystick after the nth time you die in Dark Souls

Yannick LeJacq

[via BBC News]