In Control: A Look At Game Controllers

The entire point of video games is that the player has control – otherwise they would just be movies. In order to give the player control over the game, the video game controller was invented.

magnavox odyssey
The Magnavox Odyssey.

In 1972 with the release of Pong on the Magnavox Odyssey (it’s okay, I didn’t know what that was either) came the world’s first video game console with the first home video game controller. It had two dials to control horizontal and vertical movement. Controllers have come a long way since then.

Game controllers have evolved based on the way gamers use them. Most controllers have been designed over the years to fit comfortably in gamers’ hands and provide the best gaming experience possible.

We now even have touchscreens on our controllers.

Between joysticks, keyboards, and gamepads, each gamer needs something to control their video game. With how necessary  they are, it’s important to look at the controller and all its facets.

First off, let’s look at the price of video game controllers. It is common for video game consoles to come with one controller when purchased. I mean, how else would you control the console? But most people want a second, third, or even fourth controller.

But it’s going to cost them.ps4xbonecontrollers

The most recent big consoles, the Xbox One and PS4, have the highest price for controllers we have ever seen. A single, licensed Xbox One or PS4 controller will cost you at least a whopping $60. With how much you are spending on both the console and its games, no one wants to drop another $60 dollars just so that their little brother can play with them.

 Even previous generation controllers can cost you $40. You can generally find off-brand controllers for a little bit cheaper, but personally I want all my controllers to match. Not to mention 3rd party controllers aren’t always reliable.


Nyko even tried to change entire shape of the Wiimote.


But why as gamers do we spend so much on extra controllers?

Because we have to.

Companies know that we will pay for them, so they make the prices high. The same thing goes on in the rest of the video game business world. For example, DLC for the most part is charging players for content that should have been included at launch.

 Personally I have two Xbox One controllers. I bought an extra one so that way my friend and I could play FIFA together. In order for my three friends and I to all play, I ask them to bring their controllers over and sync them to my Xbox.


I have a total of eight Nintendo controllers for Super Smash Bros Wii U: four GameCube controllers and four Wii controller with Nunchucks. I need all those controllers when people come over to Smash. Collectively that cost me about $250 dollars.

 The price of controllers is high but for most people that is okay. You buy the controllers once and they last for a couple of years. But for those gamers who may be easily frustrated, there may be a problem down the road.

Breaking video game controllers is a problem that has plagued passionate gamers since The Lost Levels on Super Mario Bros for NES. The levels weren’t initially released in North America because Nintendo thought they would be too hard and were worried about their controllers. Fast forward a decade and Nintendo Wii controllers are being thrown into the television.

Looks like someone didn’t pull on and tighten the wrist strap…

Breaking controllers happens. It happens quite frequently. When we play video games it’s the one thing that we have in our hands when we get angry. It’s the thing that takes the beating. Video games can be difficult and they get under our skin. We want so badly to just finish the level we have played 63 times. We refuse to let some video game boss halt our progress.

And then there is lag. Don’t get me started about lag.

I have thrown controllers myself. I have screamed at the TV. Fortunately, I have never broken a controller. But just go online and you can read all the stories of people who have gone through nine Xbox 360 controllers, or thrown controllers and broken windows. 

Not being able to beat a game can hurt your pride. But damaging controllers and other items in your game room can hurt your wallet. Or worse, other people.

How many controllers have you bought? How many have you broken? Are you really in control of your gaming experience?

Written by Michael Lanoie

Michael is a handheld gamer kid who evolved into a console player, the best of both worlds. He attends Chapman University and hopes to achieve his Masters in Creative Writing.

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