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Input Devices Entertainment Games

A History of Game Controllers 45

Posted by Zonk
from the wave-your-hands-in-the-air dept.
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."
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A History of Game Controllers

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  • by Gulthek (12570) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:45PM (#14428772) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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 featur
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rylin (688457) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:45PM (#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.
    • by hattig (47930)
      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 th
    • 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.
    • Nintendo has been "dying" since the PSX was released. They'll probably keep on "dying" for the next 10 years. *shrug*
  • 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 contr
  • 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.
  • "...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? An
    • I heard you could download Gamecube games. Has that changed?
      • 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.
      • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 wha

    • 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.

      • 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."
    • 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.

      • 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.
    • 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!
    • 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 conventiona

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

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