ByTim Horton, writer at
Business Development Manager at Universally Speaking. @TimHortonGame | Email: [email protected]
Tim Horton

It was the console that revolutionized the gaming industry. Everyone who owned one will always remember picking up that iconic controller for the first time.

With Sony's Playstation 4 crushing all previous console records and still taking the gaming world by storm it just felt right to give you a little background into something that you take for granted every time you power up that machine. Of course, I am talking about the controller.

Did you know that the original Sony Playstation controller was originally designed as a flat rectangular box?

It was adorned with just a basic D-pad and the tradition line of numerically ordered buttons. Similar, if not identical to what you see on the Nintendo Super NES.

Thinking that this was outdated and too in line with its competitors, controller designer Teiyu Goto opted to go another way. Taking his inspiration from an airplane joystick, Goto decided that a more ergonomic approach was necessary.

He also recognized that the new controller had to adapt with the games that the new machine was capable of playing. The new Playstation was intended to take gaming to the next level and aimed to incorporate non-linear 3D based gameplay - mechanics that would be impossible to utilize with such a limited controller setup.

To combat these limitations, Goto added the now so fundamental shoulder buttons to the PlayStation Controller. These were designed in line with the new shape in order to balance the users hand positioning. By adding a twin set of shoulder buttons, Goto was able to allow for two-way directional depth control via the index and middle fingers.

The new design was heavily criticized by various other Sony departments but after fighting tooth and nail, Goto triumphed and the icon that is the Playstation controller was born. This wonderful creation that graces our palms each and every day was born alongside the original PlayStation on December 3, 1994, and has changed very little since then, a testament to the designers incredible foresight. Mr. Goto, we salute you.

Did you know the American controller is 10% larger than Japanese models?

This was to account for the fact that the average hand size differs per person per region.

The button layout on the Playstation controller was originally designed to be a series of linear buttons arranged in numerical order but Goto had other plans. The iconic Triangle, Circle, X and Square was used instead by Goto to further align the gameplay to the controller. They were designed to mimic an action or feeling.

The Triangle represented the player’s viewpoint, the square represented a piece of paper or menu document, whereas the X and O buttons represent “no/wrong” and "yes/right. Due to regional customs this was later reversed in the Western territories.

Who would have thought that this simple change would be so instrumental in Playstation's success and would now be so ingrained into the Sony Playstation brand. This guy needs more credit if you ask me.

PlayStation made very few tweaks to the console's controller post-launch all the way up until 1996 when they launched the almighty and mind-meltingly awesome (at the time) PlayStation Analog Joystick.

Here's another fun fact, not so much about the controller but about the creation of the console. Did you know that In 1991, Nintendo were involved in co-creating the Playstation. However, Nintendo pulled out of the partnership in order to work on the Nintendo SNES. Maybe in hindsight Nintendo - that was a bad move.


Oh, and the PS1 mascot is a cat who I bet you have never heard of. Say hi to Toro! This rather quirky cat is from a game called Doko Demo Issho. The game launched in 1999 but was only ever sold in Japan - no hard feelings Toro, we just didn't know you existed.

Ok, so all this info above is all true but do please feel free to argue about the accuracy of some of this content in the comments section. This console has spawned some of the greatest and most iconic characters, worlds and communities. Sony Playstation really is for the players - we have been transported to distant lands and fought alongside dragons - never before have our adventures felt so real. The lines between reality and fantasy are forever blurred thanks to this fantastic machine. Playstation, you rock!


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