See Mortal Kombat Played With Guitars, Live

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Game Play is a gaming-based theatre festival running at the Brick Theater in Brooklyn, New York, from July 9th until July 25th. The festival includes several different productions, three of which the folks at Game Play were keen to point out to us:


  • THEATER OF THE ARCADE: Five familiar favorites from the golden age of arcade gaming are brought to the stage in the style of David Mamet, Tennessee Williams, and others.

  • GRAND THEFT OVID: The work of the Roman poet Ovid, realized in such gaming environments as World of Warcraft, Halo 3, and Grand Theft Auto 4.

  • MODAL KOMBAT: A modern-day Dueling Banjos, with two performers controlling the characters in console video games with modified electric guitars.


Modal Kombat, in particular, sounded highly interesting to us, so got in touch with creator, David Hindman, to ask him if he could give us any insight into the technology and how it works. “The short version is that I hacked into old-school video game consoles and re-configured their commands to respond to MIDI and/or Audio (the information from our guitars),” David told us.


“Once the basic system was in place, we started experimenting with all kinds of different mappings. (scales triggers move right, chords trigger “throw lighting”, g-string triggers “punch” and on and on). Then, using this principle, we started experimenting with all kinds of different games.”


As it turns out, David also wrote an entire thesis on the subject! Obviously, it’s a little too long to paste here, but you can read it in its entirety here (account required). And if you’re in New York and interested in attending Game Play, you can look up info and buy tickets here.

Ishaan Sahdev
About The Author
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.