Let’s use this topic is discuss some of the unusual ways of controlling games that we’re come across - in the past and present. Console gaming has more or less consolidated around the evolutionary descendants of the original PSX Dual Shock and Saturn 3D controllers (with the Xbox borrowing the extra analog stick from one side, and the PlayStation side borrowing the analog triggers from the other). But along the way there has been may evolutionary dead ends, along with control schemes built around an existing form factor rather than what is most comfortable.
Some memories that I have of unusual control schemes:
- Playing games with the iPod Classic click wheel. Some games, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, did not work well with the click wheel, while others such as Peggle were a great fit for this limited control system.
- Micromachines (Megadrive). In order to support eight players without requiring a dongle, the cartridge itself included an extra two ports, plus each controller could be used by two people at a time (one would use the D-Pad to accelerate and steer their car as normal, the other the buttons on the right). It worked well enough for some fun party games.
- The Kinect. It goes without saying that Kinect was an unusual control scheme. Using just your body to control games resulting in experimental games at best, but that uniqueness at least made it worth trying. And while the Kinect is now being wound down, similar technology has been used in smartphones, such as Face ID in the iPhone X. For gaming, perhaps we’ll see an evolutionary descendant to the Kinect in the future combined with VR.