From clumsy designs to superb ergonomics, this video shows us various controllers throughout gaming history.

The Nintendo Switch’s sleek Joy-Con game controllers are the epitome of convenience, allowing family members and friends to seamlessly join games for an evening of fun. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the console is defined by the controller.

Yet rewind history a little, and you’ll find that the Joy-Con is a product born from years of refinement and innovation of past controllers. Technology-history YouTube channel 4096 produced a short video titled “History of Game Controllers”, showing us exactly how far we’ve come since the dawn of digital entertainment.

▼ Take a trip through 40 years of game controller history.

Renowned toy designer Gunpei Yokoi developed the plus-shaped control pad for the left thumb in 1982, and as a testament to his ingenuity, controllers have used his idea for the past 36 years.

Everything else like the buttons and gamepad shape have either undergone massive changes that have stuck for years or were gone in an instant.

Take the buttons on the right for example, where the four-button layout reigned supreme ever since the release of SNES, effectively ousting SEGA’s attempt at popularizing their three-button (Genesis) or six-button formats (Saturn).

▼ The gold standard of four right-side buttons.

Analog sticks made a comeback on gamepads as early as 1996 with the Nintendo 64, but its rather awkward central positioning meant that players couldn’t comfortably reach it without lifting fingers from something else. Sony then took the opportunity to release the world’s first dual stick controller in 1997, the design of which proved to be a favorite among gamers till this very day.

▼ Sony also tried to take on the Wii Remote with their Playstation Move,
an unwieldy controller that resembled a plastic ice cream cone.

The video provides a great history lesson on why we end up with the console game controllers we have today, and though there’s always room for improvement, it feels as if we’ll be sticking to twin analog sticks and four right-side buttons for a long time to come. Because few people really want to go back to that baffling N64 controller design.

Source, images: YouTube/4096
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