Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

A History of Game Controllers

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the wave-your-hands-in-the-air dept.

Input Devices 45

Next Generation has an excellent piece, looking back on the history of game controllers, leading up to the Revolution's fascinating controller. They look at controller design, as well as the usage that some games wrest from the controllers. From the article: "There are ways to mess with the system; in Shadow of the Colossus, the player stabs a beast not by pressing the attack button but rather by letting go of it, making the violence a release, a consequence of the player's action. Still, there's not a lot of room for subtlety or nuance. The most subtlety you can get comes from analog control and state-shifting, and both of those are just jury-rigs to the system."

cancel ×

45 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Too recent, too light, too bad (5, Informative)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428772)

The oldest controller the piece looks at is the NES controller, and even that is only given a cursory glance.

Atari joysticks, Atari paddlewheels, the qwerty keyboard, custom arcade controllers (Golden Tee), genre specific controllers (steering wheels, light guns), game specific controllers (Guitar Hero, Steel Battalion), platform specific controllers (the Nintendo DS), any-company-other-than-Sony-or-Nintendo's controllers: all are missing from this piece of fluff article.

You're better off reading the Game Controller [wikipedia.org] article on Wikipedia.

Re:Too recent, too light, too bad (1)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429100)

One of my favorites was left out: the old Fairchild system. I only came up with one controller picture [stageselect.com] via google images. This is from the faq the image came from: If you have ever seen one of the controllers, you know that they are unique in their design. They kind of resemble a dynamite detonator, with a control knob that had 8 basic movements: up/down/left/right/twist left/twist right/pull up/pull down. The controller worked on contacts, somewhat like the Atari 2600. The inside of the controller featured a metal ring that surrounded the stick that accomplished movement on the screen.

Re:Too recent, too light, too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429236)

You only feel that way because the submitter is an idiot. It's not a "history of game controllers", and it's not meant to be. It's an opinion piece on the new Revolution controller which talks about previous controllers only as necessary to set the context for commenting on the Revolution.

Re:Too recent, too light, too bad (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429572)

platform specific controllers

The DS will eventually see ports from PocketPC and Palm...

Games like tetris have always lent themselves to cross platform ports.

Considering the increasing power of hand held computing hand held gaming will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Nintendo has positioned it's developers perfectly to dominate that market.

Re:Too recent, too light, too bad (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14430077)

Maybe it's a history of gamepads? Even then, the Nintendo gamepad would be the first but it would be on their Game N Watch systems instead of the NES which came a few years later. I think we were all severely misled by the Slashdot title. Not even an Atari Proline or the Genesis controller were mentioned.

Re:Too recent, too light, too bad (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14430312)

Even if it was just gamepads it skips Colecovision, and Intellivision controllers.

Re:Too recent, too light, too bad (1)

aderack (15503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14431907)

Perhaps, if you're looking for a detailed history of game controllers. That's not what this is. It's a theoretical piece, to explain where the Revolution controller's coming from, historically and conceptually.

More of the same? (4, Insightful)

rylin (688457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428777)

While the article is very well written, it ruins everything by going with the same old "Nintendo is dying"-message we've been hearing for the past couple of years - something that's getting quite annoying.

Re:More of the same? (2, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429009)

Maybe we could get the cops [slashdot.org] onto him for harassment?

I agree. Nintendo is doing just well. No loss on the hardware, massive portable game system sales, interesting concepts and more mean they'll do fine. It's as if people think that selling the same number of consoles as the XBox (~20m) is crap, even though the XBox made a loss on every console, and the Gamecube arguably made a profit on every console.

The Revolution may be a lot of peoples first choice of console, with many people growing tired of more of the same from Sony and Microsoft. It certainly is the second choice of a lot of people, and even then the lower price tag may encourage an earlier purchase. It might suck for the 'ooh, another racing game' or the 'ahh, another sports game' crowd, especially as they'll probably want Racing Game 2k7 or Madden '07 in HD, as that'll be the only real difference from the previous 5 versions of the game.

Re:More of the same? (1)

aderack (15503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14431931)

What? Did you even read the article? Where does it say anything about Nintendo "dying"? The article is critical of the GameCube pad, for a detailed set of reasons, and at the end makes a comment that Nintendo is perhaps one of the best examples of the problems of current game design, with the Revolution maybe being exactly what they need. How you get an anti-Nintendo slant out of this is totally beyond me.

Re:More of the same? (1)

gozu (541069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432150)

Mod parent up and grandparent way, WAY down.

Re:More of the same? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14433972)

Mod parent up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start.

Re:More of the same? (1)

ildon (413912) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434590)

Nintendo has been "dying" since the PSX was released. They'll probably keep on "dying" for the next 10 years. *shrug*

Not really a history... (2)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428923)

Otherwise it'd have included weird pong controllers, 1 button atari joysticks and so on.

It just says how the controller is being adapted by the revolution to handle things more gracefully and naturally, and that this is the end result of simplicity.

The examples he gives are interesting though. e.g., Up being move forward, tilt l/r being strafe, speed of movement determined by angle of controller. I don't know if that is better than an analogue stick though. The fighting example was better.

Great if the controller has a lot of sensitivity and resolution.

Good ol' Nintendo (1)

c_fel (927677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428993)

I guess it's just nostalgy, but I like so much the rectangular shape off the original NES controller... No bells and whistles. Just two plain buttons and a cross. Perfect.

Re:Good ol' Nintendo (1)

Dasaan (644170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429067)

make that four buttons. A, B, start and select

I thought that -- (1)

goodenoughnickname (874664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429025)

"...in Shadow of the Colossus, the player stabs a beast not by pressing the attack button but rather by letting go of it..."

I don't remember that. IIRC, don't you press the button once to start the meter, then press the button again to stab? Can anyone verify that, or am I retarded?

Also from TFA:

"And maybe you'll be a little less desperate for the next iteration of Mario Kart, when you can download the twenty-seven previous ones for a few dollars..."

Aren't there only 5 iterations of Mario Kart? And you can't download GBA, DS, or GCN games, so that leaves you with 2.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

eboot (697478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429074)

I heard you could download Gamecube games. Has that changed?

Re:I thought that -- (1)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429172)

I think downloading a Gamecube game would be take too long for the "casual gamer" that the Revolution is aimed at, that's my guess anyway - I hadn't heard of being able to download GC games, just the older generations. GC game discs will play on the Revolution though, so Nintendo will want to keep selling the games for that.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14430858)

Plus it has only 512MB of NVRAM. That alone would be a big hurdle for downloading GC games.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429183)

No, you cant download Gamecube games. You can play Gamecube games on your Revolution thought. Officially you can download NES, SNES and N64 games. Rumors persist that Nintendo is in talks with Sega about offering Master System, Genesis and Saturn games for download.

Re:I thought that -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429673)

You can't download them legally. The GC has been modded like every other current gen console and downloaded games can be burned to DVD-R and played.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 8 years ago | (#14431557)

Show me how you can fit a dvdr into a Gamecube. Even mini dvds dont work because Nintendos special laser reads the cds backwards. Pretty damn good copy protection if you ask me.

Re:I thought that -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429168)

I hear there's this thing called hyperbole in which one exaggerates to make a point.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

goodenoughnickname (874664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14430151)

But he's exaggerating the fact that there's a whole two Mario Kart games you can download. No one has ever opened a package of Twix and said, "Man, there's like 27 Twix in here!" Because there's only two.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

timcrews (763629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429368)

You are right, there are two button presses required to stab. One to build up force, and the second to actually trigger the stabbing action.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429373)

Yeah, I knew that sounded wierd. In shadow you press once to start stab, press again to execute it. That is correct. I just got done playing it a week or two ago so it is still fresh in my mind.

Re:I thought that -- (1)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429699)

It sounds like the guy has something against Nintendo for releasing the same games on different platforms. Maybe he shouldn't look at what some of the companies are doing.

Re:I thought that -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14430101)

Actually, there's no reason you couldn't download GBA games. And Mariokart DS uses the touchscreen as a single button, so you could even DL that. Of course, it's unlikely they'd want to sell virtual carts when they have current systems that can use the real ones (GBA and DS). Maybe they'll bring out a version of the gamecube's "gameboy player" for the revolution. And I'd have thought that original gameboy carts should be on the online store, since the DS can't play them. GB Tetris!

Weird story (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429173)

It is not about the history of game controllers at all. Others already pointed that out however.

The author seems to have some idea in his head about how all games have buttons you press to do something. Except he can't seem to get it across what is A bad about this B what the alternative is.

Somehow the new revolution controllers is apparently different except that you still press buttons. Oh but now you can move the entire controller to the side instead of a analog stick and you will move. Eh, yeah so what? It is just an analog stick that requires more muscles to use.

Game controller, device for controlling the action represented on the screen. The revolution just used positioning where others have used joysticks. In fact the idea of moving the controller itself is nothing new. Check 3D helmets. There was a joystick that was just a stick that worked with tilt detection.

As for the whole, Oh my god 12 buttons I am so confused, bit. Geez come on. Realize one simple thing. There will always be people confused by everything. Designing something to be fool proof is never going to work because there will always be a greater fool and you will piss of the people with a working brain cell.

Will the revolution controller work? Well as the article hints at it is at least going to be a problem. Cross ports are not going to work without additional hardware. Play game X for 49.95 in High Def on the PS3 or in low res for 49.95 + 99.95 for the controller add-on on the revolution. MMmm.

I am not saying that the revolution will fail. As a hardcore PC gamer/Handheld Gamer I only recently discovered playing with a gamepad on Broken Sword 3 and Onimusha3 (French guy and ninja slay demons across time) and it was amazing how different it plays then with a keyboard mouse setup. You can sit back in your chair and while I missed some of the control I have with PC controls it was defintly intresting.

The revolution might be similar. It is however not going to succeed just on the controller. Nobody bought the DS because it has two screens but because it has some really fun games. Will nintendo be able to do on a big console what they did with the handhelds?

Frankly I think Nintendo will have one big problem. If they sell their games for the same price as PS3/360 games people are going to judge it on its lack of HD. To cheap however and people will think it is crap. It will have a real struggle being seen as selling fun games that do not look as good but are more fun to play without people thinking simple/fun should mean costing less.

The biggest problem I seen when people looking at the DS? They compare the prices for the games with the PSP games and find them to expensive. You can tell them Advance Wars is brilliant but all people see is cartoony graphics and ask how come this costs the same as that full 3D PSP game. To be fair how do you explain that GTA Liberty City costs the same?

2006 will be an intresting year no doubt but I think Nintendo has a lot of work to do. You can complain all you want about same old games using same old controls but it sells.

Re:Weird story (1)

Rev Wally (814101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429379)

If they sell their games for the same price as PS3/360 games people are going to judge it on its lack of HD.

I think you missed the five times that the writer mentions the fact that Nintendo is going for a lower price point than Sony or Microsoft.

Re:Weird story (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429486)

I think you missed the next sentence, where the parent was clearly analyzing two possible scenarios without speculating on the likelihood of either, hence the word "if."

Re:Weird story (1)

JMMurphy (533825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429539)

You can tell them Advance Wars is brilliant but all people see is cartoony graphics and ask how come this costs the same as that full 3D PSP game. To be fair how do you explain that GTA Liberty City costs the same?

GTA Liberty City has a fraction of the play value that Advance Wars has; by that standard, GTA should cost significantly less than AW.

Re:Weird story (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429923)

You can tell them Advance Wars is brilliant but all people see is cartoony graphics and ask how come this costs the same as that full 3D PSP game. To be fair how do you explain that GTA Liberty City costs the same? GTA Liberty City has a fraction of the play value that Advance Wars has; by that standard, GTA should cost significantly less than AW./BLOCKQUOTE That beside the fact that Liberty city stories is almost $50 at most retailers, while Advance Wars DS is $35.

Too many buttons? (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429727)

The author obviously figured out how to use a 101 button controller to write his article, so I don't know how a 12 button controller is confusing!

Re:Weird story (1)

SquisherX (864160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14430863)

The author seems to have some idea in his head about how all games have buttons you press to do something. Except he can't seem to get it across what is A bad about this B what the alternative is.
Thats his whole point. There isn't anything wrong with conventional controllers as far as video game players are concerned. It is 100% functional and can get the job done. But the question is, is there a better way it can be done? If we were do design a controller today, without any care for how conventional games play and what people are used to, how would we design it?

Its like comparing VI to other editing programs. VI is fully functional, but if you give it to someone who has never used it before, and you will see that there is a huge learning curve. If the technology were perfected, wouldn't it be great for new users if you could orally dictate what you wanted to do? "Make this paragraph double spaced" as opposed to selecting the menu tabs FORMAT, PARAGRAPH, SPACING then changing it. Functional? Yes, but it just isnt intuitive.

That is what nintendo is trying to change. If you can accept it, with out any preconceptions, it can be a very intuitive control scheme, which when games are based upon this scheme, can be 100% functional.

It is actually rather similar to cars, if you stop and think about it. If there was a group of people on annother planet, whom had never driven or seen a car in their entire life, and we were to design the car controls for these people, with all the knowledge we have now, do you really think that these cars would have steering wheels and foot pedals? I dont.

Can't read it..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429377)

...six fucking pages that aren't even pages....jesus.

A more informative controller history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429410)

I find that Sock Master's Video Game Controller Family Tree -- http://www.axess.com/twilight/console/ [axess.com] -- is more informative...

Re:A more informative controller history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14439601)

Thanks for the link. It's a good one.

This list is fairly comprehensive and mostly accurate, but there are some fairly big omissions, some factual errors, and a few subjective conclusions with which I disagree.

If you are Sock Master, reply and I'll post or e-mail the corrections I would make.

History - yeah, right (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429533)

This "history" of game controllers seem to start with Playstation (never mind the illustration pic of that Atari controller, it ain't mentioned). Not a single mention of any controller older than current generation consoles, not even a single joystick... Bleh.

Misleading summary (1)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429542)

The summary for this article is misleading. It's really more of a history of *modern* controllers as they pertain to the controllers for the Nintendo Revolution.

I was disappointed when I realized this and skipped reading the article, as I would have if I had been properly informed as to its content.

Less Pages Please (1)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429732)

Can't anybody put an article on one page anymore? Do they really have to space it out over six pages? Especially when there are only a few paragraphs a page.

Lame... (1)

Saint Jimmy (943036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14430605)

Lame article but I did enjoy the little Castlevania refrence on the first page.

sub par reporting (1)

WrongOne (872463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14432118)

HISTORY of the controler.. no mention of atari 2600/5200. no mention of colecovision, no mention of the COUNTLESS atari controler knock offs used on apple and c64... But I DO see 3 differnt nintendo controlers. Maybe if your 15 year old kid, this MAY cover your history... but for us older folks it doesnt even come close. We need more NEWS for NERDS, and LESS NEWS for kids. MOD DOWN for raggin on the slashdot quality droppoff.

Wait, what are your options again? (1)

justchris (802302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434968)

I'm sorry, maybe I missed something here. At the beginning of his article, he says that current controllers give you three options. Do something, do something more, or do something different.

......what the hell other options are there? You either do something, or you do nothing. That right there is the sum total of everything that has ever happened, ever. How is the revolution controller going to change that? Sure, it'll change the way you do things, but it isn't going to automatically present you with more options that are actually possible.


This article tries a little too hard. It's great as a philosophical piece, but is wholly lacking in substance.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>