Geek Dream: 100 Old Video Game Joysticks Become Alarm Clocks [Slideshow]

Interaction designer Roger Ibars took 100 retro game controllers and turned them into fully functional timepieces.

I don’t know about you, but I find the “snooze” function on my alarm clock much too… pacifist. What I feel like doing when that damn buzzer goes off every morning is squeezing some kind of trigger and blasting it to hell. Apparently designer Roger Ibars has similar thoughts, because he’s taken a hundred beautiful retro joysticks from various video-game systems of yore (Sega Master System, original NES, and the like) and turned them into fully functional alarm clocks.


Blast your clock every morning like a game of Duck Hunt.

Video-game controllers are as diverse in their design as video games themselves, so each one presented a unique interaction-design challenge. The 1977 Atari 2600 joystick, for instance, is about as minimalist as they come: just a black rod and a red “fire” button. But it’s actually quite a dynamic input device, and Ibars easily mapped time-setting functions (move the joystick up or or down to advance minutes) and alarm-setting (same idea, but move the joystick left or right). And the red “fire” button lights up the clock face. (I’d have preferred “snooze” for that, but that’s just me.)

Even more ingenious are Ibars’ experiments with Wii-like physical actions to control different clock functions. He modified a Nintendo “Zapper” gun so that tilting it to the left and firing moves the minutes “up” while setting an alarm, and tilting/firing to the right does the reverse. Given the normal associations people have with “right equals forward,” “left equals back,” Ibars’ design seems oddly backwards from a UX design perspective, but who cares: how much fun would it be to blast your clock every morning like it was a game of Duck Hunt?

The game controllers range from ancient Arkanoid paddles to contemporary Guitar Hero axes. And while they’re not quite for sale, maybe if you asked him really nicely, he’d consider an offer. (Dibs on the NES Advantage!)

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.