Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Louie Roots

Louie Roots

Game controller hacker, bartender

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Louie Roots, I run a space in Melbourne called Bar SK. I curate exhibitions, create controllers, run the bar and sometimes make or mod games. Previously I've worked in Denmark at a company making mobile games, and I ran my own studio in Perth called SK Games, creating games for events and social spaces.

What hardware do you use?

I have a lil' Lenovo laptop that has done me well - it used to have a touch screen but it started wigging out so I had to disable it, but for a while I could swipe my finger across the screen in meetings and change the slide and people would be VERY impressed. I should also shout out to the Bracton 2-Keg Kegorator which is keeping our most important beers cold and pouring smoothly.

My main piece of controller-making kit is called an I-PAC - it sits between the arcade buttons and the PC, telling the PC that it's a keyboard. I use old arcade hardware like buttons and joysticks for two reasons; it's hardy and will withstand a beer or two, and also they're immediately understandable for people who may not know how to use the latest game pad for whatever console is current. An easy supplier is Austin Amusements, but googling "arcade components" might show you somewhere closer.

For the controllers I use old furniture, scrap wood, IKEA bits and Kmart bobs. I have a wonderful toolbox on proud display in the bar, full of tools for construction, wiring and deconstruction, as we canabalise the controllers regularly, and nothing stays intact very long at the bar. The back room is packed with scrap wood, bigger power tools, boxes of buttons and joysticks, crates of power and video cables, all sorts of decorations and lighting, and of course, beer.

And what software?

Notepad.exe - I use it to take notes, to plan my day, to get thoughts out, and to program the I-PAC keyboard encoders I use for custom controllers. As for games, I've been using Unity since my university days. I stick to Unity mainly because I'm terrible at programming and Unity has a very accessible wealth of online resources; I usually just google the thing I want to do and copy paste my way to trash games. I'm also a fan of modding old games, using whatever weird specific software it requires, giving my laptop untold viruses in the process. I'm still searching for a good email program :)

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would be a big workshop with space and storage - oh wow, space and storage, I would be so happy. I recently did some work in London for a festival called Now Play This and they provided me with some time in a workshop. It was amazing having access to so many different types of power tools - I can't believe how much I love drop saws. I also dream of a huge wall of shelves and drawers for buttons and electronic components, with a ladder on a rail like an old library.

I also dream of a bigger bar - I'd love something in an old building, where you can see the character in the bricks and the layout that shows its previous use. Somewhere with a backyard and some good trees, somewhere central to Melbourne, with cheap rent - okay, now I'm really dreaming.