Butt Sniffin Pugs is a game controlled by a giant tennis ball and a stuffed dog butt. And yet, the game is more than just a joke.
I got to play a bit of the game—which sees dogs run around in highly interactive environments and gain new powers like bite and pee by sniffing butts (naturally)—at IndieCade over the weekend. Afterward, game director Gabe Telepak explained to me that he has big plans for the controller, dog butt and all.
Telepak wants to fine-tune his trademark dog butt controller into something people with disabilities can use on a wide range of games—for instance PC/Steam games and other cursor-driven experiences. Right now, it functions like a computer mouse, but bigger—the tennis ball is basically a trackball, and the dog butt is a (ha) button—which means people with physical disabilities can maneuver it in a variety of ways.
“At Space Beagles, one of our mission statements is that you should use games to speak about something bigger,” he explained. “At first BSP was kind of this fun thing, but now we’re trying to use it to talk about accessibility. Like, ‘Hey, we can make our games more accessible. It’s not that hard.’ Instead of letting the controller die as a one time thing, we want to use it for that cause.”
Butt Sniffin Pugs and its controller are still in development, and Telepak’s working with nonprofit group AbleGamers to make sure he fills in every conceivable crack.
“AbleGamers are gonna be advisers on the controller design and on the final game,” Telepak said. “I can send them a build and they can be like, ‘This color needs to be tweaked for colorblind people’ or something like that. I might’ve had to bend over backward to see that stuff, but they have way more experience. And then more people are able to play my game.”
He told me that, even in this early state, the controller is already doing its job.
“At PAX there was this one kid passing by,” Telepak explained, “and he couldn’t play a lot of the games there because he was impaired. Seeing him play BSP, and his dad crying and thanking me... those moments [are what it’s all about]. If I can help make the community bigger, help show people games are more than just shooters—stuff like that—then I think I’m doing something right.”
With time and aid from a company called IndieBox, Telepak told me, the controller will become less, er, literally cobbled together from parts purchased on Amazon. He yanked out the tennis ball to show me an eviscerated mouse (still of the computer variety, thankfully) in the controller’s base. Apparently the final product’s insides will have more in common with a gamepad or joystick.
I had to know, though: will this all-purpose, more easily accessible controller still have a, er, dog butt slapped onto the front of it?
“It will!” replied Telepak. “But it needs to be removable, so if AbleGamers wants to show it without the butt, they can.”
Top image courtesy of Gizmodo.
Disclosure: Felix Kramer, a professional acquaintance with whom I share some friends, is involved with this game as logistics coordinator. I didn’t actually know this until yesterday, when a whole lot of people told me on Twitter, because I came across the game in a random tent, and—honestly—I don’t know that much about Felix. I’m very bad at conspiracies, clearly. Sorry about that, conspiracy fans. The more I know!