If you’re anything like my friends and me, you spent a large portion of your college years playing Guitar Hero. The game hand a near-magical ability to rope just about anyone in by being both approachable and challenging. What it lacked, however, was direct head-to-head competition. Guitar Wizards is a competitive rhythm game that fixes that oversight, and does it in hardware on a Teensy 3.6 and thousands of LEDs.
Yes, Guitar Hero technically had a player vs. player mode, but it was a points-based system that simply rewarded the player who could get through the song with the fewest missed notes. Guitar Wizards actually pits one player against the other. Each player gets a Guitar Hero controller, and they stand on opposite sides of a long table. They then shoot LED riffs across the table, where the opposing Wizard attempts to block them with their own killer riffs and to respond with a counter-attack.
Guitar Wizards was built by Ben McInnes, Adoné Kitching, Jason Sutherland, and Luc Wolthers for the ALT.CTRL.GDC exhibition. It was created with a Teensy 3.6 and a total of 2,240 individually-addressable RGB LEDs arranged on the table. Those form five notes of a scale, and correspond to the five buttons on the Guitar Hero controllers. Playing a note — or, ideally, a chord — sends notes careening across the scale, where they can be blocked by the opposing wizard. It’s a very imaginative game that’s perfect for parties, and it doesn’t even require a computer or TV.