Top 5 Outdoor Toys and Games for Kids (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best outdoor toys and games for kids on the market in 2020.

Kids will play with anything. But every once in a while, a new game or toy captures their imagination in a special way. And to help you find your child’s next favorite plaything, we’ve sifted through numerous website and consumer reviews to present our 5 recommended products.

Note: Clicking links in this article may generate affiliate revenue for GetMojo.

The Aerial Toy: Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket

Remote control planes and gliders can make things a little… complicated. But if you want to achieve the same kind of aerial awe for your kids, without the headaches, Stomp Rocket offers this option. Powered by your children, with no power cables or batteries required, the Stomp Rocket puts them in charge of the launch pad, allowing them to send foam rockets soaring up to 200 feet into the air. Costing just $25, this Stomp Rocket set includes six foam rockets in total.  

The Water Pistol: Nerf Super Soaker Scatterblast Blaster

Sometimes, the old ways are the best, and one of the oldest and best childhood pastimes is the water fight. Able to hold up to 22 ounces of water and fire up to 34 feet, this $10 Scatterblast Blaster water pistol will have your kids joyfully chasing each other all over the place. The pump-action Scatterblast Blaster also has a 5 nozzle set-up, allowing for extra soaking every time. 

The Playhouse: Backyard Discovery Timberlake Playhouse

There are tons of playhouses on the market. But if you want a traditional-style build — and something that will actually look good in your yard — then this $250 cedar wood model is a great choice. With its play stove, sink and telephone, your kids will be able to enjoy playing house as they run in and out. It even has flower pot shelves mounted on the outside, so they can learn to water the plants.

The Ninja Course: Slackers Ninjaline

If your kids are full of energy and love to climb things (and it’s a good bet they do), then this $100 Slackers NinjaLine set will ensure that they can tire themselves out, and be safe while doing so. With numerous ropes, monkey bars and rings — which hang from a securable slackline — your kids will be able to challenge each other to see who can complete the course in the fastest time. The included slackline also boasts a weight capacity of up to 250 lbs.

The Construction Experience: Reeves International The Big Dig Excavator

Good old-fashioned role play can keep kids occupied for hours. And with this large toy digger, which is reasonably priced at just $50, kids will be able to excavate treasure, build their own sand castle or just enjoy moving dirt from one place to the next. Complete with an easy-to-use seat and handlebar set-up, The Big Dig offers endless fun in an affordable package. 

So which outdoor toy should you choose? Well, every kid is different, but the products on this list prove that you don’t have to spend a fortune to give your kids endless amounts of enjoyment. 

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

Top 5 Blenders (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best blenders on the market in 2020.

No kitchen is complete without a blender. But though having one is a no-brainer, trying to find the right one is not. But not to worry, we’re here to help! We’ve sifted through numerous website and consumer reviews to present our 5 recommended products.

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The Front Runner: Vitamix 5200

If you want the freedom to make everything from simple smoothies to peanut butter, then the powerful Vitamix 5200 will happily oblige. This $400 blender is renowned for its heavy duty power and ability to blend pretty much anything, thanks to its wide range of available speeds. Equipped with a 64-ounce container, it’s also very simple to use, and backed by an excellent 7-year warranty.

The Comparable: NutriBullet Blender Combo

If you frequently flit between full pitcher and single serving blends, then you’ll need a range of containers to work with. And that’s exactly what this $140 NutriBullet Combo delivers. This easy-to-clean, compact machine comes with both 24 and 32-ounce cups, as well as a 64-ounce pitcher, allowing you to make a multitude of differently-sized snacks. But it’s not just convenient, this machine also offers plenty of punch thanks to its powerful motor.

The Quick Fix: Oster MyBlend

For those of us that prioritize convenience over everything else, this super compact, $30 blender may be all you need. Designed so that its 20-ounce container can be used to blend food and then be taken with you on the go, the 250-watt Oster MyBlend is highly praised by Men’s Health, who report it “crushes ice and fruit in minutes.” It even comes in a range of colors.

The Value Option: Ninja Professional Countertop

You can’t talk about blenders without mentioning Ninja. And if you’re after all of the aforementioned features – like power, convenience, style and value for money – then the Ninja Professional rolls all of them into one. Priced at just $120, this 1,100-watt machine boasts a large 72-ounce pitcher along with two 16-ounce cups, three blending speeds and a pulse mode. Plus, it just looks awesome.

The Hands-On Option: Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender

Like to get right in there when blending your food? Well, this $100 immersion blender from Breville will ensure you achieve the right consistency every time. Offering 15 different speeds, and paired with a 42-ounce pitcher, the 280-watt Breville Control Grip is ideal for those who want to get lumps and chunks out of their soups, sauces and smoothies. It even comes with a moulded ergonomic handle for added comfort. 

So which blender should you choose? Well, when it comes to buying a blender, the two big factors are power and convenience, so be sure to think about which is most important to you, and go from there. 

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews!

Top 5 4K Monitors (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best 4K monitors on the market in 2020.

For tech enthusiasts, 4K resolution is the new standard, so ensuring that you’ve got a good 4K monitor can be hugely important. But with so many on the market, which one should you buy? Well, we’re here to help you decide. We’ve sifted through numerous website and consumer reviews to present our five recommended products.

Note: Clicking links in this article may generate affiliate revenue for GetMojo.

The Front Runner: Acer Predator X27

Gamers are one of the biggest customers when it comes to 4K monitors, and that’s exactly who the Predator X27 is aimed at. This 27-inch 4K monitor has HDR and a super impressive refresh rate of 144 Hertz, perfect for those with a powerful gaming system. It also looks cool, thanks to a sleek, aggressive design that will stylishly blend in next to an LED computer case. It’s pretty expensive at around $1,300, but if you’re serious about gaming, then this monitor will not disappoint.

The Comparable: BenQ PD3200U

Our runner-up pick comes in at around $700, and boasts a solid Ultra-High-Definition display. Measuring in at 32 inches, it’s ideal for designers who are looking for a color-accurate display for viewing their work. And while it’s not specifically designed for gaming, its 4-millisecond pixel response will easily accommodate it. For added workplace convenience, it also adjusts for height and tilt, and comes with an SD card reader, as well as a range of USB connections.  

The Value Option: Philips Brilliance 328P

Refresh rates and high-definition terminology can get a little overwhelming, right? Well, if you’re after a 4K monitor that will deliver great all-round performance at an affordable price, Philips has the excellent Brilliance 328P model. This 31.5-inch monitor has a 4K display and impressive HDR stats; and while its finer details may not measure up to the best-in-class, its price makes up for it, as it costs around $500. If you’re a video editor or graphic designer, take note.

The Budget Option: Dell UltraSharp U2718Q

If low cost is your number one criteria, then this 27-inch Dell model is definitely worth a look. It has 4K resolution, of course, which offers a crisp, clear and vivid picture, according to the review gurus at T3. But in addition to that, this $480 monitor just looks really slick, thanks to its ultra-thin bezel design. Sure, it doesn’t have USB-C connectivity, but it does have a multitude of other ports, like HDMI, a DisplayPort socket and USB 3.0.

The Mac-Friendly Option: LG UltraFine 24MD4KL-B

If you’ve been scrolling through monitor specs looking for Mac compatibility, then fear not, this LG Ultrafine model comes equipped with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports to allow for easy connectivity. This 24-inch monitor will favour videographers and photographers looking for super accurate color and clarity, thanks to its high pixel density and impressively high brightness settings. Prices start from around $700. 

So which monitor should you choose? Well, all of these offer impressive 4K resolution. But if you’re a designer or gamer wanting to get the absolute most out of your computer system, then be sure to read the fine print on things like refresh rates and pixel density.

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

Top 5 Free Weight Sets (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the Top 5 Free Weight sets in 2020.

Choosing weights for your home gym used to be pretty straightforward, but with so many different types on sale nowadays, it can be a bit overwhelming. Not worry, we’re here to help. We’ve sifted through numerous website and consumer reviews to present our 5 recommended products.

Note: Clicking links in this article may generate affiliate revenue for GetMojo.

The Front Runner: Bowflex SelectTech 552 

Who says you need a full rack of weights! This Bowflex dumbbell set packs 33 free weights into one set, with each dumbbell offering between five and 52-and-a-half pounds of weight. To adjust, you simply turn a dial and lift away. Priced at around $330, this Bowflex set comes highly-recommended by a range of different websites, including T3, Gearhungry and Wirecutter. They also have an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon, with over 7,000 reviews. 

The Comparable: Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells

If you still want the versatility of adjustable dumbbells but don’t mind the weight-changing routine, then this Yes4All set offers the best of both worlds. Available with a range of different weight denominations, from 40 lbs all the way up to 200 lbs, they have a solid cast iron construction and come with sturdy star locking collars. Prices range from around $80 to $325. 

The Beginner Option: AmazonBasics Neoprene Hand Weights

If you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest too much money – or space – in free weights, then this affordable AmazonBasics set could be worth a look. Priced at just $45, this 32-lb set includes a pair of 3, 5 and 8-pound dumbbells, each coated in comfortable and secure neoprene. They even come with a convenient stand.  

The Old-School Option: CAP Barbell Solid Hex Dumbbell Set

For some of us, a no-nonsense, solid cast iron dumbbell set will be the only way to go – and if that sounds like you, then this CAP set should intrigue you. Offering a total of 150 pounds in weight, this cast iron set gives you that classic old-school gym feel. Priced at around $150, this dumbbell set also comes with a sturdy stand to enhance the functionality and appearance of your home gym.

The Wildcard: POWERBLOCK Elite EXP Adjustable Dumbbell

Looking for something a little different for your home gym? Well, these PowerBlock dumbbells may look a little unusual, but they offer a super flexible adjustable dumbbell set-up that, in the Elite 90 model, offers between 5 and 90 pounds per hand. Changing weight is simple too, with an easy-to-move pin system on the side. They can be quite pricey, with these flagship Elite 90s costing around $550, but they are very versatile and unique. 

So which weightlifting set should you choose? Well, it depends how much time and effort you’re likely to invest in your workouts. If you’re a gym enthusiast, then be sure to buy a product with enough weight variation to keep you busy.

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

Top 5 VR Headsets (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best VR headsets on the market.

Technology is moving fast, and VR headsets allow us to immerse ourselves in the world of movies, gaming – and, well, pretty much anything. If you’re in the market for one then we’ve got you covered. We’ve searched through websites and consumer reviews to present our 5 recommended products.

Note: Clicking links in this article may generate affiliate revenue for GetMojo.

The Front Runner: Oculus Quest

While it may be one of the most expensive VR systems out there at just under $600, it’s also one of the most comprehensive. This all-in-one system boasts a powerful Snapdragon 835 processor, dual motion controls and 6DOF motion tracking. Techradar said that it “signals a new age for virtual reality.” And unlike some other systems, it doesn’t solely rely on smartphones or a PC to deliver VR experiences.

The Other Front Runner: Oculus Go 

Okay, so you don’t want to spend $600 on the Quest or $400 on the Rift S. For under $200, the Oculus Go is a standalone, wire-free headset that makes use of 3DOF motion tracking and a Snapdragon 821 processor. Given, this processor is starting to show its age, but the huge advantage of the Oculus Go is its vast smartphone compatibility and its huge library of games. 

The Wildcard: PlayStation VR

Speaking of gaming, if that’s your number one priority, then the PlayStation VR is likely the system for you. Praised by for its “ease of use,” the PlayStation VR has excellent motion controls and an impressive library of games, including many exclusive titles. Assuming you already have a PS4 console, PlayStation VR will cost you just under $300. Just be sure to buy the right bundle that includes the key accessories needed. 

The Budget Option: BNEXT VR Headset

If you’re purely after a cheap VR headset to get you started, then this BNEXT option could be yours on Amazon for under $40. Compatible with smartphones ranging from 4-6.3 inches in size, Amazon consumers complemented its simplicity and flexible fit. And many of them gave the headset a 5 star rating after buying it for their young sons and daughters.

The Comparable: HTC Vive Cosmos

Priced somewhere between the Vive and Vive Pro at around $700, the HTC Vive Cosmos doesn’t require external sensors, has a large software library and impressive motion controllers, and is Oculus’ key competitor. Although acting as an upgrade to both the Vive and Vive Pro, it does suffer from a somewhat clunky tether cable. So wire haters, take note.

So which VR headset should you choose? Although they all offer a similar experience, a key difference is whether you need other tech to experience them – such as smartphones or a PC – how smooth they run, and whether or not they are tethered or untethered. So keep an eye on this criteria when shopping. 

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

Top 5 Tablet Computers (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best tablet computers on the market. 

Nowadays, we’re more mobile with our tech than ever before, so having a tablet computer for business and pleasure is crucial. With so many on sale, we wanted to simplify things and give you a breakdown of our 5 recommended products based on numerous websites and consumer reviews.

Note: Clicking links in this article may generate affiliate revenue for GetMojo.

The Front Runner: Apple iPad Mini

Even though there are many other more powerful and capable Apple tablets on the market, you just can’t beat the sub $400 iPad Mini for usability and value for money. It’s high-res 7.8-inch screen with Apple Pencil compatibility means it’s ideal for playing games or watching movies on-the-go. Add to that its tiny dimensions and weight, and its eight megapixel front-facing camera, and you’ve got yourself one of the most practical and enjoyable pieces of tech on sale.

The Comparable: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

If you’re more of an Android person, then Samsung’s $600 Tab S6 is the best of the bunch. Featuring a 10.5-inch screen and excellent S Pen compatibility, the S6 has tons of sophisticated features – and it looks stunning. With up to 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and an optional keyboard add-on, it’ll serve a travelling office worker well. Its 13MP front-facing camera ain’t too shabby either. 

The Wildcard: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Speaking of travelling office workers, this tablet has something its Android and iOS rivals don’t – Windows. If you’re after a desktop-esque experience, then this is it. There’s its beautiful 12.3-inch PixelSense display, a choice of Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, and up to 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM. Sure, it can cost you way over $1,000, but if you’re after the executive edge, look no further.

The Budget Option: Amazon Fire HD 10

Called “the most reliable 10-inch tablet you can buy for $150” by PC Mag, it may not be as polished as the aforementioned models, but with around eight hours of battery life, it’s perfect for backseat travellers and frequent streamers. Plus, its 32 or 64GB of internal storage means that you can save all your favourite games and movies for on-the-go entertainment. Simple and affordable, yet very capable.

The Deluxe: Apple iPad Pro 11

If you’re after the best, but still don’t want to break the bank too badly, then Apple’s iPad Pro 11 is the sweet spot. From around $800, the tablet’s 11-inch display, up to 1TB of storage and seriously impressive processing power, give it a laptop-like feel. And we think it’s much easier to handle than the bigger 12.9-inch Pro model. You can also clip the Apple Pencil to its body magnetically for added convenience.

So which tablet should you go for? Well, they pretty much belong to one of three categories; budget, casual or business. Just be sure the tablet you’re buying is fit for what you want or need it for.

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

Top 5 Home Gym Accessories (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best home gym accessories on the market in 2020.

Whereas some gym equipment is focused on offering a very specific kind of workout, there are some awesome accessories out there that aim to enhance or change up your pre-existing routine. But which of these should you have in your home gym? Well, we’ve sifted through numerous website and consumer reviews to present our 5 recommended products. Okay, first up.

Extra Comfort: Gaiam Essentials Premium Yoga Mat

This one might seem pretty obvious, but a good, comfortable yoga mat can be absolutely essential to a range of different exercises – including sit-ups, crunches, push-ups and planks. Oh, and yoga, of course. This $20 Gaiam yoga mat is particularly thick at a quarter of an inch, enhancing comfort for the user. And it even comes equipped with an over-the-shoulder carry sling for added convenience. 

Extra Intensity: POWER GUIDANCE Battle Rope

If you’re looking for a new full-body exercise to mix up your workout routine, then battle ropes are a great option. Offering a unique way to improve your mobility, burn fat and have fun while doing so, this $100 battle rope is incredibly well constructed and designed to take a beating. Also, this particular battle rope comes equipped with an anchor point – which you sometimes otherwise have to buy separately.

Extra Punch: RDX Punching Bag

Punching bags are another great full-body workout solution. And this $125 RDX bag is designed to handle any kind of beating you throw at it. Punching bags offer an excellent way to engage your arms, legs and core muscles. You can pretty much unleash your full force on it, which in turn helps you build strength. This RDX bag also includes a wall-mounting bracket and a set of gloves. 

Extra Steps: The Step Original Aerobic Platform

You can use a gym bench – or even the staircase steps in your home – to help you with dumbbell exercises and plyometrics, but having an adjustable platform step for your home gym is super-helpful and convenient. The Step Original Aerobic Platform is priced at around $100 and offers a non-slip surface that can be adjusted for height. Those who regularly do plyometric exercises will know how small tweaks to step height can make a huge difference to the intensity of your workout. 

Extra Resistance: Fit Simplify Resistance Band Set

A resistance band is like the Swiss Army Knife of the gym, because it can be used for just about anything. As well as being easily transportable, and offering a low-impact workout, it offers unique exercise opportunities, and can be a great substitute for typical, sometimes mundane, gym exercises like dumbbell curls. This $35 Fit Simplify set includes a wide variety of band strengths, and even comes with a door anchor for added versatility.

So which gym accessories should you choose? Well, if you have certain exercises that you find difficult, or a little boring, then finding an accessory to mix it up and make working out more manageable is a great idea.

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

Top 5 Kids and Family Swimming Pools (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best swimming pools on the market for kids and families in 2020.

Adding a pool or water play feature to your yard can really spruce up the family fun factor. But with so many different products on sale, it can be tough to make sense of what to buy. But not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve sifted through numerous website and consumer reviews to present our 5 recommended products.

Note: Clicking links in this article may generate affiliate revenue for GetMojo.

The Front Runner: Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center

Let’s face it, most kids get bored easily. But with this Intex play centre, there are plenty of different things for them to get excited about, thanks to its numerous games and features. This $50 Rainbow Ring play centre is aimed at kids aged two and up and comes equipped with a slide, a wading pool, a ring toss and ball throwing game, and a garden hose sprinkler attachment. Your little ones will be spoiled for choice.

The Playzone: Little Tikes Slam ‘n Curve Slide

Give a kid a good slide to play on and they’ll run around in circles on it for hours. And that’s exactly what this $400 Little Tikes set-up offers. Not only does it have an awesome slide, but there’s a fun climbing wall to access it, a basketball hoop and a reasonably-sized play area and splash zone for kids to play in. Who needs a water park, right?

The Mini-Pool: Bestway Rectangular Family Pool

Sometimes less can be more. For those who simply want a small pool for their kids to paddle around in, Bestway offers this $30 option. It’s compact enough for most yards, but still offers enough space for a few kids to play about it. And for extra protection and comfort, the sides are softly padded.

The Large Pool: Intex Metal Frame Pool Set

Intex is the big daddy of large above-ground pools, offering numerous different iterations to suit families of all sizes. And our pick is their hefty 15 feet by 48 inch metal frame pool. Equipped with a ladder to climb in and out, the sheer size of this pool will allow families to create their own games – or simply host a pool party. And Amazon consumers have raved about how easy this pool is to set up.

The Baby Pool: Gamie Duck Pond Matching Game

This one is a bit different. If you just want a tiny toy splashy pool for your preschooler to get used to the water, and maybe play some water games in the process, then this Gamie Duck Pond is a nice choice. With 20 numbered ducks with pairs of matching numbers on their bottoms, kids can learn memory skills while having fun. And you can even use it as a party game for multiple young ones to play together.

So which pool should you choose? Well, these pools are aimed at a wide variety of ages, so just be sure to buy appropriately, whether for a large family pool, or a tinier toddler one.

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

Top 5 Water Bottles (2020)

Welcome to GetMojo, we do the research so you don’t have to! In this video, we’re offering our picks for the 5 best water bottles on the market.

If you’ve already started looking, then you’ll know that there’s certainly more than one way to stay hydrated, with water bottles coming in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But, we’re here to help. After sifting through multiple review websites and consumer reviews, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 recommended products.

Note: Clicking links in this article may generate affiliate revenue for GetMojo.

The Front Runner: Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth

Ideal for busy gym goers, Nalgene’s Tritan Wide Mouth has been the brand’s bestselling water bottle for more than 20 years. With a wide range of sizes and colours – and with prices starting from just $10, this bottle features a wide opening allowing for easy filling and cleaning. It also features a millimetres and ounces read out on its side so you can stay on top of how much you’re drinking. If you’re after brand solidarity and reliability, then Nalgene really is the gold standard in this category.

The Comparable: Embrava Sports Water Bottle

While perhaps not as practical as the Nalgene Tritan, Embrava’s $20 sports bottle is a solid, reliable 18 ounce bottle with a sleek design and multiple color options. Praised by Amazon consumers for its leak-proof lid and for Embrava’s excellent customer service, it’s ideal for those that need a compact water bottle for hiking or taking to the gym.

The Clever One: Platypus DuoLock

On the subject of hiking, if you’re after something that can be seamlessly stored after and or during use, Platypus has a great range of fold flat pouches. Our pick is the $10 Platypus DuoLock, a 1-liter pouch that can be folded completely flat after use or hung on a backpack when full, thanks to its built-in carry clip. Due to its super compact construction however, it may not be quite as durable as some of the others on this list. 

The Budget Option: Contigo AUTOSEAL

Although coming in at around $15, the Contigo AUTOSEAL is a surprisingly sophisticated bottle. Contigo boasts that its double walled vacuum seal keeps drinks cold for up to 28 hours – and if its impressive 5 star Amazon reviews are anything to go by, then that’s absolutely true. On top of its cooling abilities, it also comes available in a variety of vibrant colours and most consumers claim that its lid is leak free. 

The Hot (and Cold) One: Takeya Actives Insulated Water Bottle

Keeping cold things cold is one thing, but this $25 Takeya bottle can do something a lot of other bottles can’t – it can keep drinks hot for up to 12 hours. The 24 ounce stainless steel bottle was featured in Esquire’s 15 best water bottles for 2020 list and is available in pretty much any colour you can think of. Featuring a convenient loop handle, and the option of either a spout or straw lid, it’s ideal for both gym and office use. 

So which water bottle should you choose? Although all of them on this list make great drinking bottles, many have unique features and some are better than others when it comes to leakages and durability – so be sure to take a look at other consumer’s opinions if you’re uncertain.

Stay tuned to GetMojo for the most complete video product reviews! 

The Amazing Evolution of Video Game Controllers

The controller; synonymous with gaming, and as self-descriptive as a piece of hardware gets. Thumbsticks, buttons, paddles, bongo drums, hand gestures… It’s how we connect directly with the actions and characters in a game and without a controller we would be condemned to just stare at the start screen. 

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Recently, we sat down with Adam Coe, the CEO and founder of Evil Controllers, a group of dedicated developers and professionals who give your controllers an evil touch. 

And together, we’re going to bring you the complete history of gaming’s most important and memorable video game peripheral – the controller.

Adam Coe, Founder and CEO of Evil Controllers.

“It started back in 2007, in my dorm room at the university of Arizona. At the time I was an avid Halo 2 player, playing my 5, 6, 7 hours a day and I simply wanted to improve my play style” said Adam.

Image courtesy of Evil Controllers.

Chapter 1 – The Origin

The very first game controller dates back to the late 50’s when American physicist William A. Higinbotham used an oscilloscope to create the world’s first video game – “Tennis for Two”. This simple game was played with only a knob and a button. The whole thing only took a few weeks for Higinbotham and a technician to assemble. Despite a successful showing at the Brookhaven National Laboratory Expo, Higinbotham would not pursue further into developing games. Little did he know this would spark an entire industry.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s when we started seeing more diverse (and awkward) controllers. Many retained the idea of knobs, dials, and buttons, but some went a little too over-the-top. The RCA Studio II, for example, looked like an oversized calculator. Then, you had controllers like the Coleco Telstar Arcade’s, which attempted to incorporate three different controllers with one peripheral – one with knobs, one with a steering wheel, and one with a plastic handgun. (Yeah, we can’t make stuff like THAT these days…) Shockingly enough, a handful of these controllers did support eight-way directional inputs such as the Fair Channel F console.

Coleco Telstar Arcade with gun and steering wheel.

We didn’t start seeing the joystick we’ve come to know until 1977 when Atari introduced the Atari 2600. With its simplistic design, featuring four-way directional input and a single button, the 2600’s controller made playing games feel much more intuitive than the more complex nature of their competitors.

Atari 2600

So, why did it take us so long to get to the point between 1958 when Higinbotham developed “Tennis for Two” and 1977 when the Atari 2600 debuted? It is important to know that video games were still brand new, and we were still trying to figure out how games should be played. Adam points out that delayed communication between developers and consumers hindered progress. 

“I sympathized with the developers from back in the 70s, 80s and 90s because of the resources and structure of the world at the time, you know without having the internet and the consumer feedback everything is so delayed. You created a product, it releases, you hope it does well, you get that feedback and you have to implement that feedback. And this is all with significant delays in communication” remarked Adam.

Enter Nintendo in 1980. After spending years creating playing cards and toys, the House that Mario would soon build sought after other business ventures. Originally hired as a technician, Gunpei Yokoi was brought on to help Nintendo with the expansion. While the company would see success with Yokoi’s “Ultra Hand” toy and the Color TV Game systems, Nintendo wanted Yokoi and his team to do something that wasn’t the hundredth variation of “Pong”. In 1980, Yokoi and Nintendo would introduce a miniature device known as the “Game & Watch” series. The games started out with two buttons to move characters – one to move the player character right, and one to move them left. It wouldn’t be long before these handheld games would implement four buttons, but they would be a little uncomfortable to press. To fix this, Yokoi traded the buttons for a small, cross-shaped lever that could be programmed for eight directions. This was what we now know as the “D-pad”.

Gunpei Yokoi – Nintendo

The controller’s next milestone would occur a few years after the events of the “Game & Watch” series when Nintendo had their eyes on the home console market. The only problem was that they also wanted their product to be more accessible unlike the obscenely priced machines from their competitors. Deciding to get rid of the keyboard entirely, Nintendo found that they would need to create a new way for players to communicate with games. Introducing the Nintendo Entertainment System, which came with the already revolutionary D-pad dedicated to one side. Of course, this wasn’t the only reason why the NES succeeded with its controller. 

“I would imagine at the time, in that age they found it very simple to use as they were playing Mario with just a few buttons and so from that perspective I thought it was a perfect starting point to a video game controller” said Adam.

And how did Nintendo’s competitors handle this success? Well, Atari certainly wasn’t turning heads with its odd, remote control hybrid, and the Jaguar’s controller wasn’t any better, causing the manufacturer to dip out of the console market entirely. The Commodore 64 Games System, on the other hand, would try to bring joysticks back and keep keyboards with home consoles. Alas, the system never caught on. SEGA, Sony, and SNK would attempt their own formats while still using Nintendo’s blueprint of “d-pad on left, face buttons on right”.

Sega Genesis

Adam states “The only thing I really think that could make an improvement to the controllers back then is kinda obvious now, but simply being wireless.”

Chapter 2 – Improving The Standard

Back in the early years of video games, durability wasn’t much of a thought. The 1962 game “Spacewar!” required users to be extremely careful with the machine as it was easy for someone to accidentally flip the power off. However, controllers wouldn’t be so fragile as to cause accidental shutdowns. Adam recalls controllers, even back then, being pretty sturdy. 

“As a kid, controllers were really durable and I remember the cartridges of course needing to be blown in but the controllers themselves seemed like they could withstand anything with how durable they were.”

Original PS2 with stand vs. the slim version.

As we entered the sixth generation of home consoles with the Nintendo GameCube, SEGA Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2, and Microsoft’s original Xbox, one can notice where durability was becoming more of a priority. The GameCube, Xbox, and Dreamcast utilized rather bulky controllers. One could feel how compact their parts were. Clearly, the gaming giants were wanting players comfortable and unable to smash controllers easily.

“Games and controllers go hand in hand with influencing each other. It just depends on the current times, of the type of game and the current available hardware.”

Although, before we got our grubby hands on these consoles, controllers had reached another milestone. In 1996 Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 console with an analog stick to allow for smoother movement in a 3D environment. A year later, Sony introduced a reworked version of the original PlayStation controller – the first DualShock.

Original Nintendo N64 console

“And to improve the game they created, you know, analog thumbsticks that allows you to have more control so you know it took a little bit of back and forth and now its a standard but without those thumbsticks you’re unable to enjoy the game as well as you could and therefore they are a direct impact on each other.”

Not only did this prevent blisters from that incredibly rough D-pad by offering dual analog sticks, but it gave developers more ways to let players control the game’s camera and make it easier to navigate through games. Indeed, analog sticks were quite the innovation back then.

“I mean, I think we can all say that we remember first trying those going into a game and looking up at the sky, turning around and not even being able to play. And to think that that didn’t exist previously whereas now it’s a necessity.”

A player in GTA 5 Online uses their analog sticks to move the camera around 360 degrees.

Adam cites another innovation, one that is often overlooked or easily dismissed – rumble. A few months before Sony launched the first DualShock, Nintendo introduced the Rumble Pak. What’s so special about making a controller vibrate? Well, there’s more to it than just shaking the controller. This has now become a way for developers to effectively communicate errors to the player in addition to immersing them in the game world. We’ve scoffed at things like the Nintendo Switch’s HD Rumble, but this aspect of game design is just as important as thumb sticks.

We take thumbsticks and rumble for granted these days. However, if it wasn’t for these innovations, we wouldn’t be enjoying shooters and fighting games as often as do now. Because of these, our shots are more accurate, our combos can be pulled off quicker, and we can execute complex inputs without straining our hands. Now that we’ve reached this achievement, we’ve caught ourselves at a crossroads.

Chapter 3 – Perfection: The Impossible Goal

The eighth generation may not have accomplished anything too outstanding, but it defines our impossible goal of making things perfect. Adam says the most challenging demand right now is making a controller that meets every demand for every particular play style. 

“And making it a great experience, creating your own controller on a controller creator and really engaging in all the different features that we offer.”

Evil Controller’s Controller Creator Tool

Sony’s DualShock 4 and Xbox’s new controller for the Xbox One have included sensitive triggers and improved rumble features, giving players more feedback than ever before. Their controller plating has gotten tougher, too! As for the Plumber’s Palace, Nintendo has managed to include several control schemes in a single console with the Switch.

However, as gaming has grown and become more popular, we’re finding new problems with our standard controller. How can we make gaming more accessible to those with limited mobility? How can those suffering from muscular dystrophy or have gone through amputation get in on the fun and feel included? While Xbox has introduced their own adaptive controller in 2018, other companies like Evil Controllers are offering to develop special controllers for disabled players.

Microsoft Xbox adaptive controller

“Successful gaming is the ability to allow gamers with limitations to game. So this is something that I’m extremely passionate about. We offer products for these gamers that are so customized that it’s unique to their exact playing style and whether it’s muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, an amputee, we’re able to design controllers for these gamers.”

With these ambitions in place for the industry, where can controllers go from here? We’ve already gotten glimpses of where Sony and Microsoft are wanting to take things. With their Elite series, Xbox is looking to bring customization so players can play games with the best control scheme possible. As for Sony’s new DualSense controller, the gaming giant is planning to incorporate adaptive feedback in its triggers and vibration as well as a built-in microphone to allow easier communication between players.

Xbox Elite Controller

One thing companies need to recognize is that the controller is the connection between you and the character.

“I think they’ve identified the controller is what connects you to the game and by integrating things like haptic feedback and even audio into the controller, it’s really bringing a focus back to the controller from not just the functionality standpoint but from the hardware and feature standpoint.”

It’s also important that the next wave of controllers keeps both casual gamers and hardcore gamers in mind as Adam points out.

“Hardcore gamers have different playing styles right, than a casual gamer. A casual gamer may play 10 to 15 hours a week where a hardcore gamer might be 50, 60 or even more. And with that there comes wear and tear on your controller, so we have to create controllers that can withstand that wear and tear. It’s expected with this equipment.”

So, where would be without all of these innovations? Would we still be able to detect hits more easily without rumble? Would we still be using D-pads had Sony not launched the DualShock or if Nintendo never went forward with “Game & Watch”? Would we be enjoying the many games we’re spoiled with today had we not incorporated some of these features? The controller is much more important than we realize. It’s something we take for granted, something that gets more beatings for frustrating gameplay than it rightfully deserves. So, keep them clean, and don’t rage so much. Who knows how much longer we’ll have with them before they’re discontinued? …Or when we make the giant leap to hands-free controls like the Kinect. That was ugly to imagine!

“The next generation controllers probably are gonna have significant improvement to the thumbsticks and that’s something that I would like to see being that it’s been 9 years since the last release I would expect from a hardware standpoint that we would see a tremendous improvement.”

And on that note, we’ll leave you with some Microsoft Kinect memes!

If you want a more in-depth look at the evolution of video game controllers, you can watch the video here.