Posts Tagged ‘gamepad’

Joystick evolution is an ongoing affair. Sometimes designers add interesting features, sometimes its just plain fun.


The handheld gamepad had a great feature that hasn’t been available on the joystick… the rumble.  Of course, military-grade joystick has force feedback added to the stick itself, but half the videogames that uses vibration motors don’t do it for feedback such as bullet being shot but for added feature such as low life warning.



In the beginning, there was mechanical game machines. Then came computerized videogames arcades. Soon enough, these videogames cabinet were equipped with sticks for gaming controls. Historically, when “home videogame consoles” separated paths from “arcades”, they too used joysticks, but then evolved into using “gamepads”… while “Arcades” still use them sticks. Let explore how this all came out.


The first video game arcade dates back to 1971 and was named “Computer Space”
It looked what was then futuristic, curved shapes and all. Despite original press release using a rotary encoded handle, its control panel had zero ergonomy and was (somewhat) complicated (particularly for its time) with its weirdly positioned buttons. Modern-day gamers would be eased as this plays about as well as using strange keyboard key combination, but in a non-computerized age this wasn’t optimal.


The Invention of the Spinner

It was soon realized that, for the sake of having substential revenue from a machine, controls needed to feel more natural. The main issue with Computer Space was that players had to read instructions in order to understand how to play, but people wouldn’t want to pass trough that learning phase.
The first revelation to fullfill that goal was the “spinner” – that spinning analogic wheel that helps controlling a paddle of some sort. It is still symbolized by the classic arcade videogame Pong released in 1972.


Pong was simple: no buttons, only a spinner. Controls were simple enough that players would know right away how to play.

Other input devices such as a trackballs were also used on other games such as missile commands.


We’ve been using dualshock controllers since the first playstation. It started out without its analog sticks, but since the addition of the sticks, the controller has been de facto the one people copied upon. Just look at the xb360 or wiiu pro controllers.


A little backstory on the story of the creation of the dualshock. At some point in time, sony and nintendo worked together on an addition to the Super NES called SNES-CD – Sony didn’t envision yet to work in the game industry.


SNES-CD on wikipedia.

Now, after some shenanigans and disregards for licensing, Nintendo turned around and worked with Phillips for the production of the SNES-CD add-on – which never came to existence. But it did tick off Sony enough to start its own console, the original playstation, which was the direct competitor of the Nintendo 64.


The original playstation.
The Playstation originally came with a “Playstation Controller” wich was the evolution of the SNES controller, that in turn was an evolved version of the NES gamepad. It made sense, since Sony originally thought of it to play Nintendo games.  Nintendo on their part, for the N64, went a completely different direction.