I’ve recently spotted on GameSetWatch a note about ThumbStadium, a ultra-minimalist gaming console. With an interface composed only of three leds (green, green/red and red) and two buttons, we’re far from the “now-gen”, and yet this proves once again that you don’t really need so many bells and whistles to create a fun experience.

This fits neatly with my pet concept of potential games. With minimal I/O capacities, they managed to create 7 games by using interchangeable chips:

Standard Games:

Game 1 ~ ThumbWar™
The object of ThumbWar is simple: press while the other player is pressing. If you do, you get a point.

Game 2 ~ SlapJack™
During SlapJack, Thumb Stadium randomly flashes the center LED red or green. Be the first to press when center is green and get a point. Don’t press if it isn’t green or the other player gets a point.

Game 3 ~ Jai Alai™
Center lights up ~ quickly press to “catch” your color. Press again to “throw” to the other player who has to catch on time and throw back. The time to catch gets shorter each throw.

Game 4 ~ Reflexy™
Reflexy is a one-player game. The object is to quickly press the button that matches the color in the center LED. You go until you miss or are too late. The time to react gets shorter each turn. After the game, your score is flashed ~ Center = x10, Red LED = x1. Press the Red Side Button three times to restart.

Game Chip 2 ~ TS-2 games:

Game 1 ~ Hot Potato™
Hot Potato tests your reflexes in a whole new way. Everyone is used to pressing a button quickly, but how fast are you at letting go! Stop being so co-dependent. The center LED flashes red until both players are holding their buttons down, then pulses green for 2 seconds until becoming solid green. The potato stays green for a random amount of time then suddenly turns red. The first one to let go gets a point, the other player gets burned! Make sure you are holding onto the game with your other hand so you don’t drop it! Play alone to see if your left or right brain is faster…doh

Game 2 ~ LED Tennis™
LED Tennis takes the classic video table tennis to a whole new binary dimension! The center LED lights up in a random color, stays on for a bit, then the corresponding player LED is lit. While your player LED is lit, you need to press to return the volley at which time the ball changes direction. The volley accelerates rapidly until someone misses by pressing at the wrong time. The next serve goes to the player who missed.

Game 3 ~ H-O-R-S-E™
Just like the basketball game. The first player programs a pattern of red and green button presses. The second player gets to play it back twice then has to copy the pattern. If he gets it right, it’s his turn to put in a pattern. If he misses, the first player needs to duplicate the original pattern. If he can, he gets a point. If he makes a mistake the other player gets a point and it becomes his turn to put in a pattern.

Game 4 ~ Look Over Here!™ [This is more a visualization than a game, actually]
Select Game 4 and get treated to a spellbinding Light Show! Sure to get anyone’s attention. Try it at your favorite restaurant to call your waiter! Leave it running on your dash to deter thieves, unless they love binary LED games! Meet your future spouse! It’s magical! It’s like having the Las Vegas Strip in the palm of your hand!!!

Could they have pushed minimalism further? Probably… If they had, would they have managed to build fun games? Well, that’s harder to say. Go take a look at my one-pixel-games to see what I mean.

I’ll sign off with some trippy videos of the device:

Do, or do not. There is no try.