video game accessory typesA video game accessory is a distinct piece of hardware that is required to use a video gameconsole, or one that enriches the video games play experience. Essentially, video gameaccessories are everything except the console itself, such as controllers, memory, power adapters(AC), and audio/visual cables. Most video game consoles come with the accessories required toplay games out of the box (minus software): one A/V cable, one AC cable, and a controller.Memory is usually the most required accessory outside of these, as game data cannot be savedto compact discs. The companies that manufacture video game consoles also make theseaccessories for replacement purposes (AC cords and A/V cables) as well as improving the overallexperience (extra controllers for more players, or unique devices like light guns and dance pads).There is an entire industry of companies that create accessories for consoles as well, calledthird-party companies. The prices are often lower than those made by the maker of the console(first-party). This is usually achieved by avoiding licensing or using cheaper materials. For themobile systems like the PlayStation Portable and Game Boy iterations, there are many accessoriesto make them more usable in mobile environments, such as mobile chargers, lighting to improvevisibility, and cases to both protect and help organize the collection of system peripherals to.Newer accessories include many home-made things like mod chips to bypass manufacturingprotection or homemade software.Accessory typesGame controllersThe most common accessory for video game consoles are the controllers used to play the games.The controllers have evolved since the day of Pong and the spinner. Now there are directioncontrols as well as many types of other inputs.One type of directional control is the directional pad or D-Pad. The D-Pad is designed to look likean addition sign with each branch being one of the four cardinal directions; left, right, up, anddown. It has been around since the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and has been inevery Nintendo systems since. It is also present in all of Sonys PlayStation consoles includingtheir portable system. Another feature in the recent console controllers are the analog sticks,used for 360 directional control. Often used for camera angle control, the idea is to give theplayer full control by allowing any direction to be used. The analog controls made their firstappearance in the 1970s consoles under the name joystick; they made a reappearance in consolesystems with the Nintendo 64. Analog sticks have been used in every modern console since.There is no analog stick on the Wii Remote, but it is present on the Nunchuk attachment bundledwith the Wii console. The most recent development in directional controls is free motion control.Using accelerometers in the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, acceleration in any direction can bedetected and measured. This is still a new type of control scheme and is fully taken advantageof in the Wii as well as the PlayStation 3s SIXAXIS controller, and Playstation MOVE controllerthat has tilt detection.
While directional controls are one important part of controllers there are also general inputs,usually in the form of buttons either on the front or on the tope edges (shoulders) of thecontroller. These buttons are simply designed usually labeled either by some color, shape, orletter identification. The buttons can be used for simplistic one action ideas like jumping orperforming some kind of generic mêlée attack, but they can also be used to string togethercombinations of maneuvers like a martial artists attacks. In systems beginning with the SuperNintendo, buttons on the shoulders of the controller have become commonplace. In the case ofthe Xbox series of systems (and Sega Dreamcast), the shoulder buttons are shaped and usedmore like a gun trigger.Memory unitsOriginally console games had no additional storage memory for saving game related data. Duringthe Nintendo Entertainment Systems time on the market, battery backed cartridge games thatcould retain a limited number of game files were introduced. When the original PlayStation wasreleased it included support for an external memory source, called a memory card. Its purpose
was to store important information about the games, such as game states or scoring info. Thatmemory card used a memory of type EEPROM. To support the growing use of these cards innormal game play and the different amounts of data to be saved, larger memory cards werecreated. Other consoles also adopted the use of memory cards, such as the Sega Dreamcast,whose memory card was called the Visual Memory Unit or VMU. The Dreamcast’s memory unitwas unique in that it had a monochrome LCD display, a D-pad, and two buttons. A large thirdparty memory card market also sprung up, offering cards that were often much cheaper andlarger than the official released memory cards. Some unique third party cards required extrasoftware to access the cards, or possibly increase the data capacity by compressing the containeddata.The Xbox system was sold with a new type of data storage for consoles: an internal hard drive tostore information. The hard drive was 8 GB and was used as more than just a memory device.It was used in conjunction with the games to buffer some of the game data so that loading timeswere decreased. The hard drive also stored downloadable content from the Xbox Live service.Since the Xbox precedent, the PlayStation 2 had a hard drive accessory used with the FinalFantasy XI game to store character data. In the new generation of game consoles the PlayStation3 is included with one of many different sized hard drives, depending on which model of theconsole is purchased, the 20 GB, 40 GB, 60 GB, and 80 GB models, or 120 or 250 GB for the PS3Slim. The Xbox 360 launched with a 20 GB hard drive. After users started to complain of lack ofspace due to HD content, Microsoft released a 120 GB drive bundled with their Elite model, andavailable for individual sale.Audio/Video cablesConsole systems are played on a television. As such the systems need a way for the informationthey process to show up on the screen, and for the audio to be played through a sound system.Originally this was done through an antenna switch box. Later this was changed to a coaxialcable setup called a RF connector. It transmitted both the audio and video through one cable.Modern day systems are quite different though. All of the newer systems use industry standardsnow. One of those standards is RCA composite cables of single video and left and right audio. Thevideo connector is usually colored yellow while the left and right audios are colored white andred respectively. Now that the newer systems are focusing on HD content and displaying in HDnewer types of cable connections are needed. The basic are component cables with the RGBformat. RGB stands for the three colors, red, green, and blue. This is the simplest form of HDcables. It uses three cables for video and the two for audio still. The newest form of HDtransmittance cables are the High-Definition Multimedia Interface or HDMI cables. The HDMIcables transmit both the video and audio signals over a single cable. More importantly theinformation transmitted is a digital signal. Other cables utilize analog signals so that modernsystems must convert to analog and then back to digital for use. Information is often lost in theseconversions so that HDMI keeps the signal as digital so that less information is lost, keeping thesignal truer to its source. These cables and signals are too new to be fully utilized, and are reallyonly necessary for 1080p signal.
CasesDue to the modern video gaming market, an abundance of cases are available for both home andhand held game systems. Because portables often come in contact with the elements and aremore prone to accidents, most owners use a case to protect their systems.Many such cases include soft padding to cradle the system while an outside shell providesprotection from falls or environmental debris. Some trade off padding to make a thinner, morecompact case. While the larger such cases usually provide better protection and more room forgames and accessories, they can be rather bulky and difficult to carry in pockets or small bags.To a lesser degree, cases for home consoles also exist. Home console cases are usually designedas a backpack or briefcase and have enough room for the system, cables, controllers, and often, afew games. This allows gamers to easily transport traditionally stationary systems, making themmore mobile and sharable.Home console video games come packaged inside of a DVD-style case. Portables use a smallerformat, but both are usually larger than the actual game media. Therefore, one may find casesmade to hold only the game media, thus saving space and protecting the disks or cartridges fromthe open environment or improper storage. They can hold one or several games. Larger cases andfolders can hold a gamers entire collection.Software accessoriesMost software accessories for a video game system are simply the games designed byprofessional game companies. With some of the recent systems, homemade games calledhomebrew are being designed and released publicly. The Xbox 360 system has official releasedtools called the XNA so that users can design and proliferate their own content. It wasannounce by Microsoft after their announcement of the Xbox Live Marketplace. Another type ofhomebrew is popular on the Nintendo DS portable gaming system. Through an outsidehardware device, the internal software that is used to run games, the BIOS, is overwritten.Replacing the default BIOS with an unofficial BIOS allows for user generated content to beplayable. These games are anything from simple ports of older games to truly new ideas andgames. Sony also allowed for homebrew content on their new PlayStation 3 by allowing for Linuxto be installed. Linux allows for many different types of content to be playable. Because ofLinux’s open source methods of utilizing the hardware as long as users write the necessarysoftware, anything can be playable on the PS3.There is more than just software that allows different software to be playable. Hardware calledmodchips allow for many different changes to the system. Because the chips require that youopen the case to the system and attach them to the circuits, the chips void any warranty and areeven considered illegal by some companies. Most modchips are designed to allow illegal copiesof games to be played. They can also allow for access to hardware not normally contained in thesystem. Overall modchips can add interesting effects but can cause many complications from the
possibility of breaking the system, from improper installation, and causing legal problems.