War of the Currents is a one-of-a-kind custom arcade game created by Real Art, pitting Nikola Tesla against Thomas Edison. Proto Buildbar, a 3d printing and digital services cafe in Dayton, Ohio, unveiled the new game at South by Southwest this March.
The game uses digitized Mortal Kombat-style graphics, according to GeekTyrant.com. It only features the two fighters — Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, and each of them have appropriately-themed electric powers. "One of the most unique aspects of the game is that when you charge up and use your character’s super-electric move, the game actually shocks the other player with real electricity," Geek Tyrant says. This is achieved with a conductive joystick built into the machine.
"In the case of The War of Currents: Tesla vs. Edison, the debate was born from a love of retro gaming and how we could put a shocking twist on the classic arcade cabinet," Real Art explained on its website. From Tesla’s famous high-voltage experiments came the inspiration for the joystick shock portion of the experience. Beginning with only a hollow arcade cabinet with a shelf in it for a screen, the development lab of engineers and industrial designers at Real Art went to work on the custom joysticks. The team built out a custom circuit system to generate the shocks via a relay board connected to an Arduino. The level of the shock is controlled by a digital potentiometer — strong enough for "a wince and gasp, but not enough to send the player to the ER."