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FINALIST alt.ctrl.GDC 2017

Schadenfreude takes the experience of being trapped in an elevator where someone keeps hitting the wrong buttons, accidentally or purposely, and turns it into a game of secrets and betrayal between humans trapped in a cramped space.

By placing a handful of people within a tiny place, Schadenfreude looks to make players work together despite their discomfort about personal proximity. In its cramped environs, players will learn to work together no matter how shy and irritated they may be.

Team lead

Game Development

Game Design


Mikei Huang - fabrication design

Seung Whan Lee - graphic and motion design

Paul Frank Mallon - hardware and game design



Website here

Gamasutra article



Processing (Java)


The elevator button panel was constructed with arcade buttons, acrylic plastic, and adjustable stand. All components are collapsable for easy transport. 

Hardware was custom made and programmed with Arduino. 

Players were randomly assigned a character at the start of each game. 

Cards were designed to resemble a cell phone with a clear acrylic back and metal rings for easy card flipping.

Text messages were used to convey narrative and information in the game. 

For example a message from your significant other, "I think one of the neighbors stole our welcome mat again!" 

"you need to get to floor 1, but you're so annoyed do you lie about what floor you need so others are also annoyed?" 

AT GDC 2017

Schadenfreude was selected as one of 20 finalists for alt.ctlr.gdc, an exhibition dedicated to alternative controllers and custom hardware. 

The game was a big hit; always attracting a crowd of interested participants. The game play relies on a hidden traitor mechanic which caused quite the controversy among friends and strangers. 



The first iteration of Schadenfreude was created in a two week turn around period. The team knew we wanted to make an alternative game that pushed the limits of players' personal space boundaries. From there, the elevator concept developed. 

The first iteration was built from wood and included an elevated wooden platform, different player selection, and haptic wristbands to convey player information. 

Eventually, the design moved away from the bulkiness of the wooden structure and opted for a more narratively cohesive information system than the wristbands. 

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