A Salute to Gaming RootsIn this salute to gaming roots Sharon salutes The Joystick. Not the first game controller ever made, certainly not the last, but the one with a high impact on life outside the world of electronic entertainment. Let’s consider… the joystick.
There I stood, a blissfully tardy teenager, in the long narrow arcade of the rural Ontario town where I went to high school. I was a ‘minor-niner’ at the time, painfully aware of the friends who had invited me here on my lunch but equally aware of the curriculum I was missing by not rushing back to class. Part of me longed to be back in the classroom taking notes and raising my hand with answers but an equal part of me was mesmerized by the bleeps and bloops and dings of the arcade. Little did I know how many years before this day had gone into creating my perfect post pizza experience. Though I would come to this arcade again and again, it wasn’t until I grew much older that I realized just how much had gone into the development of these cases, buttons, and joysticks.
Though the idea started with Sega’s 1966 electro-mechanical submarine game Periscope, the target audience of the first ever arcade box was all too familiar with this up and coming gaming tool. Prior to its adaptation for electronic entertainment the Joystick was (and still is) widely used in military and civilian aircrafts. Periscope, a game designed by Sega to entertain military personnel in Honolulu (who maybe had a little extra time on their hands), used a moving periscope and light animated torpedoes, BUT would make way for the scores of arcade cases to come. The inevitable marriage of coin operated and joystick style gaming continued for Sega during these years. This marriage is one that would populate arcades and make its way into home gaming thanks to Magnavox inventor Ralph H. Baer who is said to have designed the gaming joystick for home console in 1967.
As was the nature at the time, suddenly …….