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PC Game Controller Definition


A PC game controller can have many names, so let's just get a few of those out of the way first.  They can be called input devices, joysticks, joystiks, game pad, joypad, mice, steering wheels, paddle, trackball, plunger, footpad, the list goes on.  Basically a game controller is an input device that is used to control an object within a game environement that is being ran by a computing device or computer.  There are a wide variety of controllers, controller configurations and controller types and brands.  You can use the keyboard you already have as a pc game controller, as mentioned before, you can have a steering wheel, a light gun, even a replica of an aircraft cockpit, a throttle quadrant, a balance board, guitars, drums, how about a set of pedals to go with your steering wheel or a racing seat with wheel, pedals and shifter built in. The possiblities are endless.  Let's look at some of the major manufacturers.


Who Makes Game Controllers


Ok, first off let's consider that most if not all game controllers are manufactured in China or Japan by companies who's brand you will not recongnize.  So, we will not boil it all the way down to where the plastic in the controller actually comes from so to speak, so we'll just stick on major retail brands you will see at your local store.   Actually, let's skip this part of the conversation, you'll see the brands at the store anyway, which brings me to my next point.


Where Can You Buy Game Controllers


When some people think about purchasing game controllers one thing that comes to mind is where can I buy them?  I always reply with this, at the store.  Which brings me to my next point.  Actually, that was an incomplete answer.  There are a lot of big box stores out there that sell game contollers.  Some places that come to mind are Best Buy, Circuit City, Frye's, Wal-Mart etc.  However, if you want to get what you really need, you'll want to go to a shop that is more gamer focused.  Think Gamestop or Gamecrazy and if huge national chains aren't your thing, check around your township for a mom and pop video game shop, sometimes these mom and pops will even consult with you on what you want and special order it from one of thier distributors, nice!  Then there is an even more specialized place than that.  If you're into flight simulators, a lot of times, a good hobby shop will have what you need.  Like a place that sells a bunch of RC cars and planes, stuff like that.  These guys a lot of the time will also have that yolk you've been looking for or that throttle quadrant you've been dreaming about.

Then of course you can always shop online, which brings me to my next point.  No matter what controller you get, you're going to want to get your hands on a tube of GhostGrip if you want to unleash it's full potential.  Well, I mean, if you don't like playing with sweaty hands, unleashing the controller's true potential in entirely up to you young Skywalker.  

Where do Wii Start? D-pad replaces Joystick.

That's funny, get it.  Well, Wii start with Nintendo, why, because of the NES.  The original NES controller was the first game controller that made a multi-button game pad make real sense.  Sure, it had the pause button, an a and b if I recall correctly, but more importantly, the joystick replacing D-pad, sweet!  The D-pad is that little plus sign looking thing on the NES controller that allowed you to controll the direction of your player by using your thumb instead of holding a joystick in your hand.  It was ingenious, because with a joystick (like the one on an Atari 2600) the player would need to use his entire left of right hand manipulating the player, which would leave very limited use of that hand for any button controll whatsoever.  Yeah, I know, the NES contoller didn't have any buttons on the D-pad side, but, it paved the way for them to exist at least.  There were some joysticks out there that had multi button capabiltiy, but the problem was, you had to stick the controller to a flat surface like a desk or something to even use them (remember the little suction cups on the bottom of the Atari 2600 joystick, who ever used those?).  

Touche, 2 joysticks replace D-pad

It's ironic that the D-pad gets replaced by two joysticks.  Difference is, they're not called joysticks anymore, they're called thumbsticks.  The thumbsticks sit on the left and right side of your modern day console controller and made they're first popular debut on the Playstation controller.  This setup, although not utilized to it's fullest on the original PS1 would lay the foundation for the integration of them into more sophisticated gameplay, and ultimately to their use in the revolutionary twin stick controlls you see on tons of todays hits.  My personal favorite, NHL 2009 by EA Sports.  But tons of games take advantage of this setup, and if you play any first person shooters, you already know what I mean.  So the PS1 controllers gotta rank up there.


Commadore 64 and early PC games joystick.


This is old school, but I'll throw it in there.  Some of you younger gamers are probably like,, dude, what?  Anyway, you had to use the Commadore one to understand (the early Radio Shack contollers were similar).  Basically it was a joystick with a base like the 2600 joystick, but the stick was a steel rod with a little plastic knob on the end and it didn't return back to it's original postition when you let it go.  So basically it was like playing with a wet noodle attached to a lead base with a little rectagular fire button somewhere on the side.  Perfect!  Click on the paragraph title or here to go to the wooden joystick link, daaaannnnggg.  How sweet is that?


Full circle.


That brings me full circle to the Wii.  The Wii controller(s) makes the list, because like the ones mentioned above they are groundbreakers and pioneers of what's to come, basically the next step in the evolution of game controllers.  Pretty soon, you'll be able to head down to your local GameStop and they'll have a certified nuero-surgeon on hand to tap right into your brain stem.  Then all you have to do is plug your head into your consol.  Bingo, no more worrying about sweaty controller paws or burning out your plasma screen!!  Awesome!!!


Until then, keep your hands off your pants and on your controller.


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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