Super Mario Bros: Mega Glitch Explosion Edition

April 1, 2013 | Andy Cush

Remember Game Genie? What if, instead of cracking into video games to help you cheat, it turned them into glitched-out pieces of interactive art? That begins to get at the premise behind illucia, a hardware hack from Chris Novello that allows you to get at a game’s guts and screw them around a bit as you play. Built around Open Sound Control (a powerful modern rethinking of the dated-to-hell MIDI protocol), illucia allows you to play a game like you’d play a modular analog synthesizer, patching cables and modulating parameters using oscillators and sequencers.

“I discovered that games go berserk when you modulate their interior parameters with things like sine waves and step sequencers. They burst into generative patterns,” Novello told Wired in an interview. “I started thinking of games like cellular automata — they’re just simple sets of rules that erupt with amazing generative behavior when pushed.”

In the video above, the artist connects his creation to a gestural controller called a Soundplane, fires up Super Mario, and lets the digital carnage begin.

“Interactive digital mediums (like videogames) have such expansive potential for human expression, communication, and knowledge,” he says. “Much more vast than the culture surrounding the medium at this moment in history. I think that questioning our expectations of things like videogames is one important step toward enabling a richer relationship with digital culture.”