Sep 252002
 
Authors: Chris Ortiz

Video game controllers have evolved a lot since they were first introduced to homes in the early 1980s. The more advanced game systems have become, the more advanced the controllers have become.

Everyone remembers the square controller (which fitted perfectly in your hand) from the Nintendo Entertainment System; a direction pad, select, start, “B” and “A”.

As technology progressed, controllers were designed and redesigned to keep up with the newest games. Addition buttons were added, the shape of the controllers themselves were changed so they fit more naturally in hands and more advanced features were added.

As games got more intense and more action orientated, controllers did as well.

When the fourth generation of game systems were introduced (Nintendo 64, Sony’s Playstation, Sega’s Dreamcast), features such as a vibration pack (that vibrated during certain segments of the game), slots for memory cards (to save games) and more buttons than anyone can push at one time were added.

Today’s controllers might be a little intimidating for people who have not picked up a controller in the past few years. Micosoft’s Xbox controller includes one directional pad, not one but two joystick controllers, has more than eight buttons and is by far the biggest controller on the market. Controllers have become so advanced that portable game systems can now be used as controllers. The new Advanced Gameboy actually becomes a controller when connected to the Gamecube.

Along the way, controllers have seen some creative designs but not all of them were favorites.

Anyone remember the Powerglove? The ideal behind this cursed controller for the NES was instead of moving your thumb to press a button on a normal controller; a gamer would have to move his or her entire hand to do the same affect.

But NES did offer gamers the all-popular gamepad. The “controller” was a floor matt that allowed gamers to use their feet. Flight sticks, steering wheels and fishing rods were also creative controllers that helped gamers become more involved with the games they are playing.

Vic Galey is a manager at Buy Back Games on S. College Ave. Galey says the most important characteristic of a controller should be how comfortable it is.

“In my opinion, the Gamecube (by Nintendo) is the most comfortable controller,” he said.

As controllers have become more and more advanced, they have also become more and more expensive. The Xbox controller has a price tag of $40, one fourth what the system itself costs. With these prices, gamers might feel tempted to buy controllers made by second or third parties, which are typically cheaper than the controllers made by the same companies that make game systems; Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

Galey recommends staying with first party parts.

“I would stay with first party parts because of the quality,” he said. He continued saying that first party controllers are unlikely to cause damage to your game system unlike their cheaper counterparts.

So what lies in the future for game controllers?

Galey predicts and hopes controllers will follow the path of Sony’s Playstation controller, which allows gamers to use an analog controller, much like arcade games. But don’t expect more and more buttons. Galey said game controllers today already have more than enough buttons for gamers and for the games themselves.

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