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A game controller that gives you electric shocks is being developed by Mad Catz in the US. There isn't a press release and the office hasn't woken up yet (that's Californians for you) but the New Scientist has reported it, so it must be true.

Following on from the controllers that fight against you while playing (thus making it all far more involving), the prototype BioForce will give you electric shocks - ideal for fighting games, says a company spokesman.

Don't worry though, the shocks won't be enough to cause real physical pain (can you imagine the lawsuits if they did?). But it may be enough to cause a muscle spasm and make you lose grip of the controller.

"We like to describe it as a tingling low-power electrical stimulus," said the spokesman. D'you reckon he's been watching too many James Bond movies? "Stand by for World Domination."

How's it work? Well, you'll have to stick two electrode pads on your forearms (16 milliamp from three 1.5 volt batteries) and then whenever you character takes a punch (or kick) gazaam! up your arm. Sounds a bit disturbing but in a world where we're mollycoddled to the extent of legislation, we can see this being a great success.

Of course, for blokes it also introduces machismo ("I can take it, I can take it"). And the inevitable cheating by putting the electrodes on different parts of the arm or putting an insulator between the electrode and your skin.

Is it practical? Nah, not with the additional electrode thing. You really need the shock through your hand but then this will mess with the actual controller itself.

Mad Catz has so far connected the shock with the rumble mechanism in other controllers but it hopes to get people to write games especially for the controller.

We foresee heavy success and huge lawsuits in five years' time when ESI - a modern cousin of RSI - becomes the lawyers' favourite cause. ®

Related Link

New Scientist article

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