Sawbuck Gamer


Pushing Your Buttons

B.U.T.T.O.N. may leave you battered, bruised, and beaming.

By Matt Gerardi • June 12, 2012

There’s something to be said for a game that can get four adults to scuttle across a living room floor while sitting cross-legged, dragging their butts like dogs in a particular kind of discomfort, only to reach a table of Xbox controllers and slap at buttons. The folks at Die Gute Fabrik seem to have set out on a mission to rebuild children’s games for the “Jackass” generation. Whereas tag or hide-and-go-seek are played with nothing but the human body, Gute Fabrik supplements the corporeal game with electronics. Gute Fabrik’s latest creation, the still unreleased Johann Sebastian Joust, invites players to move their bodies to the rhythm of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos using motion controllers.

Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now (B.U.T.T.O.N.) is the studio’s first experiment with physical games. The players, anywhere between two and eight of them, put down their controllers and take as many steps back as instructed. The game then gives a random command, such as “act like a monkey” or “do eight push-ups.” This is the calm before the storm—a period of awkward comfort undermined by a slowly building tension and scored by a sedate bossa nova ditty.

Eventually, the game gives a countdown, and on “GO,” the players snap into a mad dash for their controllers. It tends to be a tornado of limbs, with players pulling, pushing, and swatting at everything around them. There are no rules at this stage, only goals—to win and force others to lose—and inside the cartoonish cloud of violence, those “brutally unfair tactics” rear their heads.

Victory means following a random instruction like, “the first player to press their button exactly 13 times wins.” Simple enough, right? Well, my reading comprehension skills disappeared once I had friends hanging from my arms and two controllers in my hands. I mashed my button right on past 13—missed that “exactly” part—and my on-screen avatar was struck by lightning instead of basking in the winners’ rainbow. B.U.T.T.O.N. provides the framework for a primal human experience. The victory is meaningless, yet some players will do anything in their power to achieve it.

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260 Responses to “Pushing Your Buttons”

  1. Aaron Riccio says:

    “Children’s games for the Jackass generation” is a brilliant line; the idea of B.U.T.T.O.N. is interesting, but the execution doesn’t seem all that thrilling — are there multiple rounds? Does it keep track of the winners and losers? And while I hate to say this, I play games so as to AVOID violence: were I to play this with my friends (instead of You Don’t Know Jack or Rock Band), we’d be shoving each other out of the way and yanking controllers left and right . . . and I’m sure the system and/or TV would soon be broken.

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      It does keep track of wins across rounds, but the only indication are tiny medals to the left of your avatar. It only counts up to three and anymore wins after that don’t show up. It’s not a first to three situation either; the game doesn’t make point of crowning some ultimate champion. It just sort of keeps going.