'Pxl Pushr' blends Kinect and iPad play to impressive, multicolor results

Among the dozen or so games strewn about New York City's Museum of Modern Art (during last week's Kill Screen-curated "Arcade" event) two titles had their playable debuts: Eric Zimmerman and Nathalie Pozzi's "Starry Heavens" ("a physical game of power and betrayal"), as well as Matt Boch and Ryan Challinor's "Pxl Pushr" ("something akin to a full-bodied theremin blended with a puzzle game"). Considering what the two freshman entries were up against -- critically acclaimed games like Limbo, Canabalt, and Echochrome -- it was impressive that both games had lengthy lines throughout the evening.

I mean no offense when I say this, but Pxl Pusher looks like what would've happened if Kinect technology had existed in the Coleco Vision days. In the same way that your Dad's sweet 1973 Lacoste track jacket still looks totally rad, so does Pxl Pushr. The bizarre look is both a measure of the dev duo's style -- their day jobs are as designers at Harmonix -- and of the short-term development cycle. "Over the past four weeks-ish we've been messing around building this game," Boch explained.

In Pxl Pushr, one player places dots on an iPad, while another player attempts to catch as many dots as possible by using the contortions of their body (via Kinect). The player contorting their body is scored on how many pixels he/she is able to "push" versus the ones they miss. It's a simple concept for sure, but one that had many attendees smiling while making very silly poses. Not that the crowd's reaction was foreign to Boch and Challinor, two gentlemen who spend their working hours with Dance Central 2.%Gallery-129438% "We're elated at the lines that have been here, and how excited people are about it. But it's a pretty simple idea that we had and we just went about implementing it," Boch explained humbly. The end product became even more impressive when he described the genesis of Pxl Pushr. "Ryan [Challinor] built this awesome app called Synapse, which allows Kinect to send open sound control messages. And basically built on that framework, we built this game." And what happens with Synapse next (or Pxl Pushr, for that matter)? "Basically, this was the finish line, and now we're gonna see what's after the finish line," Challinor said.

But despite being part of an event at one of the world's most famous art museums, it seems unlikely that Pxl Pushr dev Matt Boch will be banging the "games as art" drum any time soon. Not because he doesn't believe them to be, but because of his excellent response when asked how he felt about the MoMA's show:
"It's awesome! I think the games as art debate is really a sign of lack of self-confidence in the games industry. If someone in the New York Times wrote an article about how literature could never be art, what authors would respond? If someone wrote an article on their blog about how movies could never be art, what directors would respond? Especially if that article was written by someone who had never seen a movie or never read a book before. But the games industry for some reason has this bizarre fixation on getting respected by the culture at large -- and look, look where we are! We're being respected by the culture at large, and it's time for the games industry to stop having this silly argument about whether games are art or not and just keep making artful games which we already make."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.