With the advent of billion-button gaming mice and head-mounted optical displays, the impact of high-tech hardware on competitive gaming is all but inevitable. SteLuLu Technologies, a Montreal startup, decided to cash in on the need for more advanced input methods, but they just aimed lower. Literally lower. Like, at your feet.
The Stinkyboard controller is a floor dwelling USB accessory that allows PC gamers (sorry Mac users, you’re still not invited to the party) to enhance their bind options with additional, heel-and-toe powered commands.
That could seriously cut down on wrist-based injuries accrued during intense Starcraft matches, but it could also make for key combinations that simply aren’t possible using pitiful human hands.
We had the pleasure of kicking a few questions over to Stephane Rivard, co-creator of the Stinkyboard controller, to find out more about what this heavy duty deck can do. If you’re looking for an admittedly strange edge in competitive gaming and you like Stephane’s answers, you can support the cause at the official Stinkyboard Kickstarter, which runs until the end of April.
Stinkyboard interview with SteLuLu founder Stephane Rivard
T3: Could you tell us more about yourself and SteLuLu co-founder, Luc Levasseur? What kind of background do you have in hardware or software engineering, and how did you come together on this project?
SR: I am an entrepreneur having started my first business straight out of University. My first companies specialized in educational technologies with a focus on developing both hardware and software solutions. Throughout the years, the company established itself in more than 20 countries, counting amongst the world’s most prestigious institutions. I began my PC gaming career with Castle Wolfenstein.
Luc has a background in IT management and has been an avid gamer for nearly 31 years. It all started with Pong on a black and white television. He has owned just about every console made from the Atari 2600 to the Playstation 3. In the early 90’s he discovered the Internet on a PC and started building his own computers. This led him to start his first IT business at the age of 19, building and selling custom built computers. He plays all types of games, but his favorites are FPS’s and MMO’s. Roughly 6 years ago he started building his own fight sticks using Sanwa arcade parts and custom wooden boxes. This led him to designing a foot pedal that he could use for gaming.
Friends since the late 90s, Luc and I decided to create a company in order to design, develop and commercialize new and unique gaming accessories. We are avid gamers with a keen interest in startups, so this seemed like the perfect challenge.
T3: Outside of gaming, what are the most likely daily/productivity applications for the Stinkyboard?
SR: We have people using it for Photoshop, live DJ Effects, MIDI Pedals, Visual Studio and Video Editing among other programs. The footboard allows us to keep focused on the screen and the keyboard without having to search for those “nor common, nor rare” keys.
T3: The Stinkyboard seems like it could have special value for disabled gamers or other computer users who do not have full use of both hands. Have you gotten any feedback in this area?
SR: We are currently working with The AbleGamers Foundation who have shown tremendous interest.
T3: Name an example of something you could do in a popular game that would be impossible or impractical without the Stinkyboard.
SR: When playing Battlefield 3, I chose to use my toes for sprint and my heel for crouch rather than the typical pinky finger, this not only enabled me to stay in better control of my character but also allowed me to play comfortably. Using the Stinky Footboard and freeing my pinky finger in Battlefield 3 made the gaming experience immersive and more enjoyable. In World of Warcraft, I use the Stinky Footboard for instant casts or actions, which would normally be around my character movement keys. I used to sacrifice some character movement in order to use some of my instant casts. For example strafing right with the “D” key, made it impossible for me to use the “F”, “G”, “C”, “V” and “R” keys. I was forced to stop my movement or change direction using “A”, “W” or “S” in order to use the action keys to the right of “D”. The same can also be said when using the “R”, “D”, “F”, “G” keys for movement. I always had to sacrifice movement when using the keys around WASD/RDFG.
T3: Have you found that users with a history of foot-based input adapt more quickly to the Stinkyboard? Skaters, drummers, piano players?
SR: At PAX East we had a few hundred gamers test the Stinky Footboard and we noticed that they got used to it within about five minutes. Many of the gamers said how surprised they were at how easy it was to get used to. Just as driving a car becomes second nature, so too does using the Stinky Footboard.
T3: Have you used or seen others use 2 or more Stinkyboards at once? If so, what was the application?
SR: At PAX East we had a demo machine with two Stinky Footboards being used with the game Hawken by Meteor Entertainment. People that used it were totally impressed with how well they could manoeuver using two boards.
T3: What is next for SteLuLu after the Stinkyboard? Are you looking into other Stinkyboard variations (analog input, etc.) or other novel input technologies?
SR: We definitely have a lot of new and innovative ideas in the works including an analogue version of the footboard for the VR fans out there. We have also been doing some internal testing involving the PS3 and XBOX consoles.
T3: Does Stinkyboard have any current or pending sponsorships with e-sports teams or individual e-sports players?
SR: We are currently in talks with e-sports players and teams. We should have news in the near future about these exciting developments.
T3: Do you know if Stinkyboard be allowed at e-sports events such as MLG? If not, is SteLuLu working with e-sports organizations for official acceptance?
SR: The current rules have not banned the Stinkyboard. It is really a new skill that needs to be learned, it does provide an important advantage, once mastered. We are currently working with tournament organizers!
T3: What’s the best bar in Montreal?
SR: Bílý Kůń on 354 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est.
On behalf of T3, I’d like to thank Stephane and his team for this opportunity to learn about the future of Stinkyboard! Best of luck, and we’ll make sure to give both Stinkyboard and Bily Kun a try!