One interesting section of GDC I attended that broadened my horizons was the Alt.Control.GDC area at the entrance to the Indie side of the expo. It essentially featured games with alternative control methods beyond just a keyboard or gamepad. While many there would be impractical for mass production (shipping a game with an exclusive controller isn’t very cost-effective or worth it unless it’s an assured success,) but the exercise of exploring alternative means helps innovate on concepts that are normally taken for granted and create memorable new experiences that open up games to audiences who might previously not have been interested.
A fun example of this was Hellcouch, a game in which three players take cues from lights on the floor in order to sit and stand in a specific order to complete the “sacred butt ritual” and exorcise the demon from the couch, symbolized by a booming voice and fog emanating from beneath the couch. Played on an actual, physical couch, this simple game is hilariously fun because it’s so ridiculous, and it was cool to see industry professionals and students alike brought together by it. It also brings up the very possible future where games can be played in our general surroundings (what with smart objects and Internet of Things becoming the norm,) and vice versa, where mundane actions are made more fun by gamified elements. Thinking outside the box like this is key to riding the innovation wave of the future.