The image of video-games being played in darkened bedrooms has been in decline for sometime now, but unusual game JS Joust takes things further with a motion controlled experience perfectly suited for playing outside.
I recently caught up with the game's developer to find out more about how the game came into being and how best to play it.
Up to 7 players each hold a PlayStation Move or PS3 Dual Shock 3 or PS4 Dual Shock 4 controller and stand in an open space. The aim is to keep your controller still whilst at the same time attempting to get each opponent to move theirs. What soon evolves is a game about movement and sneaking up on people. All manner of tactics develop in JS Joust from players trying to kick their shoes at opponent’s controllers, to staying really close to the ground, hiding the controller behind your back or attempting to sneak off into another room while no one is looking.
The controller itself tells players how they are doing. The color indicates your team. It flashes and vibrates if you have almost moved too much and goes red when you have lost a life.
The final piece of the puzzle is that music plays during the game. It changes speed to determine how sensitive the controllers are. When it speeds up the sensitivity is lower meaning that players can move around more quickly, when the music slows down the sensitivity is higher and players have to be extra careful to move more slowly.
Although initial JS Joust seems like a simple electronic game of tag, in fact it turns into a game about movement, listening and timing. Players must pay attention to the speed of the music and use it to their advantage.
As you can see in the video, because the game isn't tied to a screen you can play it anywhere. In my family and local community I've run the game at School Fetes, Arts Festivals, local park events and for family birthday parties. We've had people playing the game from the ages of 8 to 80 with a wide variety of abilities and it's always been fascinating to see how people play.
Video-games have always been good at getting players to interact with each other, JS Joust just does this in more a public way.J.S. Joust is available on PS3 (7 player version) and PS4 (4 player version) as part of the Sportsfriends compendium. The game is also available on Mac and Linux (7 player version) via Steam. To play the game you need four to seven DualShock 3 or 4 or (ideally) Move controllers (you don’t need the Move camera).