The design team partnered with the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York to create the signature digital experience for the 60th annual Mad Ball gala, their most important fundraiser. To entertain guests that included design luminaries, museum board members and honorees such as Madeleine Albright, Jorge M. Pérez and Barnaba Fornasetti, the museum tasked the team with creating a memorable interactive experience that was, true to their mission, an innovative and unexpected celebration of design and the creative process.
Inspired by the playful touch-based interactions in the museum’s current Sonic Arcades exhibition, they built a gala-friendly tabletop video game based on the arcade classic Pong, an elegantly designed game that’s not only worthy of the museum’s collection, but intuitive to play and instantly engaging. However, instead of the traditional joystick, the game would be controlled by fruit.
Having worked with touch-capacitive sensors in the past, the team knew it was technically possible to create a touch-sensitive banana but built a prototype to confirm the fruit’s responsiveness. After successful testing, the design was finalized with two touch inputs controlling each digital paddle — apples vs. oranges. By touching the right apple, Team Apple’s paddle will slide to the right; touch the left apple, the paddle slides left. Simple. Too simple, really. Enter the “disrupter bananas,” which allow additional players to launch projectiles into the playing field.
After a final phase of designing, soldering and coding, the fruit of the team’s labor was delivered, installed and given pride of place in the grand venue. Guests gathered around the game, laughing, spilling drinks and occasionally crushing fruit — all signs of healthy competition. Over the course of the evening, the team composted two dozen apples, oranges and bananas, peeled and ate one of the controllers when its authenticity was questioned, and overheard several competitors inventing creative fruit-based derogatory terms. It was innovative, it was unexpected, it was MAD.