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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Fight fans get real
Game player using the Fighting Arena Thrustmaster
Gladiatorial combat in the fighting arena
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

Put away your flight simulators and prepare for the fight sim.

Joystick giant Thrustmaster is hoping to get geeks out of their seats and off their couches with a gadget that translates the punches, kicks and moves they perform in the real world into the game they are playing.

Its Fighting Arena uses infrared and pressure sensors to monitor how a player is moving in fighting and boxing games.

Currently, the gadget is designed only to work with Sony Playstation games.

Killer combination

Although the graphics in computer games are getting more realistic all the time, the way we interact with the characters in games is taking much longer to evolve.

Currently, many of us are stuck with a joystick or the feverish pressing of buttons in ever more convoluted combinations to generate a killer move on screen.

Aerial view of the Thrustmaster fighting arena Thrustmaster
A top view of the arena
But soon, you could be actually performing moves similar to the ones you want your onscreen alter-ego to perform thanks to the Fighting Arena developed by peripheral maker Thrustmaster.

Using four infrared beams fixed on two upright poles and a touch-sensitive mat, the Fighting Arena monitors how a player is moving and translates this into the game being played. The beams can be broken using arms or legs to mimic in-game moves.

Each one of the infrared beams represents one of the four buttons on a conventional Playstation joypad controller. Breaking a beam is the same as pressing a button.

On the touch sensitive mat are start and select buttons, as well as eight directional sensors that can be used to control the movement of an onscreen character.

The gadget is designed to aid players of fighting and boxing games who typically have to hit several buttons in sequence on a joypad to perform a combination or special move that could knock out or maim an onscreen opponent.

The Fighting Arena is due to be released in Europe in September and should cost about 70.

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