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Before the Oculus Touch: The Evolution of Wireless Game Controllers

Before the Oculus Touch: The Evolution of Wireless Game Controllers

When you fire up your gaming console it’s almost to be expected that you’ll be doing so from a comfortable perch from across the room. Heck, now with the reveal of the Oculus Touch, things will probably feel downright extra-dimensional in the very near future. Old school gaming was a different experience, however, and though we fondly look back on the days when we sat tethered to the Atari or Nintendo with a mere 3 feet between our faces and the TV screen, we only really do so with the same odd reverence we do with suffering through youth as though it was a badge of honor.  While we think nothing of our wireless controller today, it’s been a long and arduous march toward a “world without boundaries” as the legendary Neo once stated.


Atari Joystick


It wasn’t the first but it is probably the one we remember the most. There once was a time when the joystick was the main way that we controlled how we interacted with our screens. Crazy, right?

Nintendo Power Glove


Nintendo has always been at the forefront of looking for new ways that we can “play the game.”  The Power Glove was a radical step that ultimately sputtered. When we look back though we can see the first seeds planted in what would become a controller-less experience.



Make no mistake: there were others. The Playstation wasn’t the only machine to offer a wireless experience, but it seems like this was the one that nailed and stuck the landing. The rumble feature and axis controls — where you could tilt the controller to guide your avatar — allowed for us to dive deeper into gaming and extended itself beyond just mashing buttons.



This is it. This is the moment when very idea of wireless gaming became ubiquitous — maybe even a given. Because of the system’s popularity in the homes of folks who don’t play games, the sheer fun factor spurred the final push into the peak of motion controller gaming.



If you’ve ever played a game truly devoted to the Kinect experience then you know just how fun and liberating and involved it is. Being able to interact with your console without a controller and being able to use your body to mimic running, jumping, and even flying is the latest step toward the holy grail of…well The Matrix.


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