My name is Ard Jacobs, the founder and inventor of the PILLO game controller, and this is the story of how a pillow came to life.
Friends of us have a severely autistic son - Tim - about 12 years old at the time. He loved playing video games, mostly Nintendo games. As he was an only child and desperate to share his enthusiasm with people, he clamorously described every detail of the game while playing, regardless of anyone listening. His parents, desperate to answer to their son’s enthusiasm for gaming, weren’t able to cope with the button bashing interface of their son’s game collection. As much as they would love to connect with their boy through something he was greatly interested in, joining him in the games he loved just wasn’t accessible to them.
This story has been of great inspiration to me as a designer of new interfaces for play. After having worked in the field of applied games and graduated in Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology, my mission became to make gaming inclusive and accessible to everyone. This meant also to Tim and his parents, elderly, patients and many other people who currently feel excluded from the game community either because the games are too quick or the controllers too complex. By combining my knowledge of interaction- and product design, PILLO emerged. With Laurie’s help, PILLO now connects people of all ages through sensible games.
The soft and intuitive interface of the PILLO controller invites you to touch and hug it. Also the games available for PILLO must comply with a few simple and sensible rules for making PILLO about sharing fun and playful experiences - games must promote collaborative play and they must be violent-free. Gaming together suddenly becomes a highly social and explorative act of joy. Just press, squeeze or hug PILLO to start gaming!
Tim and his parents found their family joy in playing with PILLO. We found in it our mission to bring PILLO to every home and healthcare organization. Ever since, we’ve been working very hard to make PILLO commercially available to the public and to inspire game studios and students to develop games for this beautiful platform.
Since early 2013, PILLO has worked together with professionals and students from marketing, games and engineering fields to help create a quality controller and amazing platform. In addition, we organize game jams to invite students and studios to come and create game concepts with us. And there are a number of healthcare organizations where we regularly visit to play PILLO with patients to test new games.
PILLO is almost there. We currently put the final touch to the PILLO Series 1 - and are almost ready to start shipping internationally.