In the 40+ years since video game consoles first started appearing in people’s homes, video game controllers have gone through numerous, branching evolutions. Each of the major companies seems to have their own philosophy about what makes a good controller and how their particular design can be improved, but which one is objectively the best? A recent video from Cheddar gives a brief overview of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo’s attempts to create the perfect controller, showing that it’s about much more than where you put the buttons.
Surprisingly, the look and feel of most video game controllers has as much to do with game design as it does ergonomic considerations. Back before the launch of the N64, developers like Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to make games where you could do things like, say, control Mario’s run speed in a 3D world, and Nintendo designed a controller that would allow for that functionality. Once companies like Sony and Microsoft landed on their core design, however, future iterations focused more on optimization, making minor tweaks that would improve the experience of their most hardcore fans.
Admittedly, there are a few glaring omissions in this video, such as Nintendo’s design for the Wii and Switch controllers, but that doesn’t diminish the argument that the perfect video game controller continues to elude us. Here’s hoping developers figure it out before controllers become obsolete and we start plugging HDMI cables directly into our heads.
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