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One-button games, pt. 3

For a few years now, I’ve been on a hunt for one-button games — video games that have a single button to control all the action. I argue that anyone designers who can create a game with one single control — and a mouse-with-button-clicks doesn’t count, because that’s two buttons — truly understand the ludological underpinnings of play, since they do not need to hide behind elaborate 3D to produce a sense of excitement. In games, as in poetry, it’s the limitations that produce creativity.

So I was thrilled when Alexandre Houdent, a game designer, sent me a link to GlobZ Mini Games — a site where he has created no less than twelve single-button games! And I am happy to report that they are all a total blast. That one above is UFO Panic (pictured above), in which the little turrent swings to and fro and you try to time your mouse-click so that you shoot the descending aliens. In KidSki, a single click switches your slaloming from left to right; in Roboto, the length that you click and hold the button determines how far your robot jumps. The concept behind each game is similar — you have to time your button-pushes perfectly to navigate a system in which objects oscillate with regular periodicity. But they’re beautifully, wonderfully done.

(Thanks to Alexandre for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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