PainStation: No pain, no game

The PainStation is a computer game that has the ability to hit back where it hurts most. Mistakes by the players aren’t just shown on the screen, but cause pain to be inflicted to boot!

Those who fail to react quickly enough in the ever-popular classic game of Pong are physically punished. The lash of a whip or a burning sensation in the hand can be pretty painful. This interactive art object created by Volker Morawe und Tilmann Reiff shows how artists view the man-machine interface and sheds new light on the boundaries between people and their devices. Visitors will only really get to grips with the concept behind this work of art if they are brave enough to interact with it. And it is only when the interfaces that appear so familiar act in a manner so different from that expected of them that the humorous aspect emerges.

The artists have described the PainStation as a “modern duelling artefact”. Developed in 2001, it was awarded the International Media Art Prize two years later. The game is still the subject of heated debate to this day. Some take the view that the PainStation glorifies violence, while others regard it as a successful parody of conventional game design. The HNF has recorded the views of previous users, which range from euphoric enthusiasm to indignant outrage.

Those who wish to try out the PainStation at the HNF have to be at least 18 years of age and prepared to accept whatever punishment is meted out to them.