nicolas nova & laurent bolli
playful10 - Sep. 24, 2010
hi, i am going to talk about game controllers... more specifcally, about game pads like this
one. Beware, this is PURELY NERDISH
Being interested in interaction design and HCI... it’s been a long time that we keep track of
video game controllers evolution (from Nikola Tesla’s patent of the remote control)... at ﬁrst
we wanted to make a collection of every controllers....
... but in the end we focused on gamepads/joypads...
let’s rewind a little bit, it started in ﬂea markets in Europe and Asia
we bought them, brought them back to the office...
...doing it properly... documenting the artifacts...
vectorization of artifacts... sketching diagrams... what if we made a book?... this will be
released in a booklet/iPad app pretty soon
what if we made a game? OK, we’re going to start off with a game... this is supposed to be a
Memory game in which you have to match different cards... but it’s too hard to play with
Keynote, so... who recognizes the different joypad?
But at some point the CEO of Nintendo wanted more action in the game... he wanted players
to do two things are the same time... like moving around and throwing stuff or jumping...
which is why Gunpei Yokoi’s team had to thought about interfaces to do this.... they even
tried with a mini-joystick or a sort of weird nipple thing...
this is the patent from the solution they came up with... the birth of the direction pad. As you
can see, it’s located on the right... but it moved to the left because this is where arcade
joystick are located.
1982: and it lead to this Game and Watch platform
And it remained a direction cross... from the Famicom to the Nintendo Wii, or the Nintendo
It’s so pervasive that it’s even used as a logo for pharmacies
As usual with evolution, there are always traces from the past and extreme use of a technical
The return of the joystick... because of the need to move character more freely in the 3 space
directions... with Mario 64
PADS SHAPE EVOLUTION
1987 1988 1990 1991 1993 1994 1995 2001 2005
1991 1995 1997 1998 2000 2005/6 2010
1983 1985 1990 1993 1995 1996 1998 2001 2006 2006
We mapped the evolution and the different types of direction pad on genealogy trees like this
(currently being modiﬁed to take some variations into account). Nintendo was pretty liberal
about the use of its patent... hence a big variety of direction pad designs
We also draw this kind of diagram to map the adaptation of the d-pad from one controller to
GAME PADS SHAPE EVOLUTION brick
the original brick shape
1993 the “boomerang” shape
leads to prongs affirmation
new geometric shapes
are added to the original
brick to form bone-like pad 1983
1993 1990 1990 1995 1995 1997 1998 2001 2001 2000 2005 2005/6
1990 1993 the pads become
full 3D shaped
2006 the pads face becomes
bigger and the prongs are
1998 integrated in the shape
1 prong 3 prongs round
(remote) the brick is rotated 90° 2003
and becomes a one
prongs pad, or remote
and their evolution over time... we developed a typology of game pad shapes
With which we can play Rorschach inkblot test :)
Another Rorschach inkblot test with gamepad images
some hypotheses we are exploring:
- controller hardware generally driven
by different factors: video game design
at Nintendo (d-pad/donkey kong, return
of joysticks/Mario 64 in 3D), hardware
possibilities at Sony
- despite Kinect joypad still around,
even the Wii and Sony Move feature
gamepad elements, why is that?