Wood, steel, paint, electronics, Atari games, projector
9′ x 9′
3m x 3m

[giantJoystick] is a large, functioning game controller and serves as an interface to a shift in embodied experience.

[giantJoystick] explores group collaboration in play. A 10 foot tall joystick, modeled after a classic Atari 2600 joystick, is situated in the gallery or in public space in order to produce a childlike scale, to generate discussion and group play.

Players collectively navigate classic ATARI arcade games such as Asteroids and Breakout; due to the scale of the interface, however, players need to collaborate.

This work has been written about extensively including in Janet Murray’s Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice, MIT Press 2011 and in John Sharp’s Works of Game, MIT Press 2015. The image on the cover of Flanagan’s own book Critical Play is also this very joystick.

[giantJoystick] was in part commissioned by HTTP Gallery, London in 2006, and visited the London Games Festival that year. This appearance was covered by Alek Krotoski in The Guardian in July 2006 as well as Make: magazine. It was also shown at Laboral in Asturias Spain, the Cal IT2 gallery in San Diego, the Beall Center in Irvine, and at ZKM Germany. In 2020 the joystick was awarded the honor of being the largest playable joystick in the world by the Guinness World Records, and was included in the book’s 2022 edition.

The Catalogue Essay about the work from the first exhibition  is available here.


Solo Exhibitions

  • California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2) Gallery, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, February – March 2008

Group Exhibitions

  • ZKM Gameplay Exhibition and Collection, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, June 21 2013-2015
  • The Beall Center for Art and Technology, Irvine, California, October – December 2007
  • Feedback Exhibition, Laboral Art Center Inaugural Exhibition, Asturias, Spain, March – July 2006
  • INDIECADE @ E3, Los Angeles, California, July 2006
  • GAME/PLAY, HTTP Gallery London, UK, July 2006
  • London Games Festival, London, UK, October 2006



A new Play-List

31 July 2006
Net Art News by Irene Wu

Video games have recently been the subject of a number of new media art works and exhibitions, but the element of ‘play’ is often overlooked in discourses about games. In the UK, the Game/Play exhibition strives to add to ongoing art-world conversations about ‘the rhetorical constructs game and play’…

Irene Wu

We Make Money Not Art

16 July 2006
Entry posted by Regine

As opposed to traditional board or card games, framed by shared physical space, the communicative exchanges and group experiences occurring in computer games, such as in “(Massive) Multi-User games”, take place in virtual worlds that are (a few exceptions aside) accessed by individual players from the privacy of their home through the use of game controllers, mice, keyboards and joysticks. These interfaces themselves exist on the periphery of perception, as translators that extend users’ hands and movements into dataspace…

Creative Europe

18 July 2006
Entry posted by Gillian White

Game/Play is a national touring exhibition that explores goal-orientated gaming and playful interaction through media arts practice. This collaboration between Q-Arts, Derby and HTTP, London has provided a framework to develop a context for creative exchange between visitors to the exhibition focusing on the rhetorical constructs game and play…

Gillian White

Areopause Blog
Giant Atari Joystick

28 June 2006
Post by Christiane Paul

For the past few years, computer games have become one of the most fertile grounds for artistic exploration in new media art. Ranging from games developed by artists to mods (modifications of existing games), the spectrum of “game art” has critically examined the architecture, politics, and aesthetics of its commercial counterpart. (Massive) Multi-User games, in particular, have increasingly gained attention and, intentionally or not, have nurtured the emergence of new forms of collaboration, governance, and economy in their respective virtual worlds…

Christiane Paul

Bernie DeKoven’s FunLog
Of Art and Fun

Weird Gizmos blog
Top 5 Strangest Atari Gadgets

Gay Gamer
Joystick Envy

Old Man Musings
Joystick Envy

Aeropause / Giant Atari Joystick

Attack of the Giant Atari Joystick

Resonance – Micro Clear Spot
15 min slot on Tuesday 15 September at 13.45

Guardian Guide North and London, Saturday 29 July 2006

Preview by Robert Clark

Haringey Gazette, week 31

National Newspaper Supplement

National art and architecture magazine

Blueprint Review, October 2006 issue