Google-Asteroids — An Arcade-Style 4-Buttons Interface to the Google API

Keyboard Controls:

Turn:  LEFT, RIGHT, or A, D
Thrust:  DOWN, or S
Fire:  UP, W, SPACE, or ENTER

Hit once to display search rank,
Hit twice to reveal publisher/host,
Destroy to show details and to add item to score.



“Google-Asteroids” is the third in a suite of art projects to explore interfaces and human computer relations.
All scripts and images © 2013 Norbert Landsteiner, mass:werk – media environments,

Shoot your news! Score on your query!
This arcade style search interface is a homage to the golden age of video games.
And while we are at it: Let's add a new genre to the list — The info-shooter.


Select a mode (web search or general news). For search mode enter your search-term by following the advice on the screen. (Mind to submit your query by shooting *ENTER*. A default query will be inserted for an empty search-string.)

Search results will be presented in waves of up to eight asteroids. There is a results item associated to each of the asteroids. To reveal the rank of this item, hit once. To show the originating host or publisher, hit a second time. Finally, hit a third time to display the associated entry and to add this item to your score.
(This procedure mimics a classic UI design pattern for content presentation called “progressive disclosure”. In fact, this technique was developed for the Xerox Star at the very same time, when “Asteroids” reigned the arcades.)

To dismiss the displayed information early, press FIRE.
Click the score-list's title to sort your achieved scores by rank.

See the bottom of the virtual display for keys & controls.


•  Google REST API
•  JavaScript, html5, CSS
•  hand-crafted bytes & pixels


Last week (Jan 21st, 2013) Atari Inc. has filed for bankruptcy protection. This incident marks the formal end of the age of classic video games, which was heralded by “Spacewar!” fifty years ago (1962), and to which Atari gave birth in 1972 by its iconic “Pong”, eventually to be followed by Atari's all-time greatest arcade hit ”Asteroids” (1979, 1981).

Reason enough to pay homage to this great genre of computer applications by taking the term “application” by its meaning. Welcome to the first info-shooter — an arcade-style 4-buttons interface to the Google API.

It might be worth to emphazise the coincindence that at the same time, when Atari's “Asteroids” pioneered free spatial movement and progressive destruction in arcade games, developments at Xerox SDD leading to the graphical user interface (GUI) featured a spatial representation of knowledge by the means of a menu system and the graphical representation of files, as well as another new technique essential to the GUI, progressive disclosure. In a way, Google-Asteroids might be looked at as yet another GUI, with asteroids representing files opening to messages, when finally destroyed, and dismissed by another shot (just like clicking a closebox). And just as with “Asteroids”, where the player is likely to fail, when neglecting the concept of progressive destruction by indifferently blasting any moving objects, you are up to the closest thing to failing in Google-Asteroids, namely an apparently random presentation of results, when neglecting the principles of progressive disclosure. (But there is still a last resort: You may click the score-list's title to sort your results. Put that way, sorting might be seen as the hyperspace-equivalent of knowledge space.)


The game display and its custom vector font are rendered directly onto the screen via a canvas element.
Sounds are provided via the Web Audio API. While writing this, the Audio API is supported by Webkit-browsers only (e.g. recent versions of Google Chrome, Apple Safari). Since this is the official W3C standard, other vendors will hopefully follow.


See also:

•  “Google60 – Search Mad Men Style” – <>
•  “Google BBS Terminal – What Google would have looked like in the 80s” – <>


Neither this page nor the author of this page is in any affiliation with Google Inc. The page accesses search and news services by Google™ in order to provide realistic results in an artistic layout. This service connects directly to, no search data is transmitted to or from
Also, neither this page nor the author is in any affiliation with Atari Inc. Please mind that this is not the game “Asteroids”, which is a trademark and the intellectual property of Atari Inc. / Atari SA.


Copyright 2013 Norbert Landsteiner, mass:werk – media environments.
All rights reserved. No copying, no unauthorized providing or hosting.