Ahh… video game controllers. If you are like a lot of geeks, you can graph your life based on what video games you played at the time. I remember being a little kid sitting in a bean bag chair in the cold basement of my parent’s house for hours playing Frogger with a simple joystick controller. I thought I was hot stuff to have an Atari. The graphics were horrible and completely blurry. The only noises it made during the game were a few beeps and then, of course, the sound it made when your frog got run over by a car.
As gaming progressed over the years, things seemed to get more complicated. The graphics got better, they became more about killing and violence, and the games themselves even started to get rated. One thing though that has always kept my interest is how the controllers have evolved. Not only have the controllers themselves evolved, but also the the way they are designed. There is a real opportunity to be creative with video game controllers, and designers and artists are inspired by that for sure.
I remember when Playstation 3 released their pink wireless controller. I was all over that one. Then there was the XBox 360 controller with blood splattered all over it to mimic the games. Yeah, I know, completely over the edge. Recently I wrote about a controller that is a sensor stuck to your tongue. By kissing someone, you activate the sensor and control the game. That one was kinda neat. There’s even been a coffee table design inspired by a controller.
All this talk about video game controllers has me wondering about how they all started and how far they’ve come. How are they connected and what was inspired by what? I thought it might be very complicated to figure all that out, but a few people have done it. It seems the first controller family tree was created by Sock Master back in 2004. When you look at his graphics, it’s fascinating because you realize in an instant that not only was that one of the first controller history illustrations, but also, one of the first infographics. You gotta check it out, it’s so cool.
Then, in 2009, Renters Insurance made another attempt and put together this completely respectable video game controller evolution graphic, but for me, it just wasn’t quite detailed enough. It does; however, include my beloved Atari and original Nintendo Gameboy. By the time 2010 arrived, not only had controllers been developed and redeveloped many times, but so had infographics. They were getting fancier and more popular as shown in this video controller evolution image created by Cxpartners.
Now here we are in 2011, and I think I’ve found the most badass video game controller evolution infographic out there. It tracks the complete evolution from 1972 – 2010. There are 82 species and 9 genera over 4 decades. Just organizing this information must have been a mind blowing job, not even counting designing this beautiful infographic. You can actually even buy this one. It is offered on a poster, hand-signed by the artists, stamped, sealed and numbered for only $30 here. If you study this for about ten minutes, my guess is, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about controllers. It’s simply geektastic!