Possibly more so than any other medium, computer games have improved exponentially over time. It seems like only yesterday that Pong was the pinnacle of gaming achievement – moving a white line up and down the screen to the sound of bleeps and bloops – realism was not the name of the game (we’ve been through this – Pong was the name of the game). Today though games are almost photo-realistic, worlds are incredibly detailed down to such aspects as the pictures on the walls in the houses, and the plants in the gardens. But while the programming and the design have certainly come on in leaps and bounds, it’s actually the hardware that’s made this possible. And while the processing power has increased more and more with each new ‘generation’, it’s also become more interesting and more innovative at the same time – to the point where some of the consoles are no longer just machines with controllers, but amazing gadgets that you can interact within completely new ways. Here we will look at some of the most incredible gaming gadgets and gizmos that have changed the face of gaming, or at least given us something new and exciting to try.
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The Nintendo Wii
It wouldn’t be fair to write about gaming gadgets without featuring the Wii – a device that proved that under the right circumstances innovation can trump money and processing power. This was a console that used motion sensor controllers in order to create a gameplay style that could be enjoyed by a wider audience – specifically families. It helped Nintendo to stage an impressive comeback and it ushered in a whole new style of gameplay that would also inspire the PlayStation Move and the next entry on this list…
Some might suggest that the Kinect was nothing but an attempt for Microsoft to share in some of the success of the Wii (imitation is the best form of flattery and all that…), but that would be unfair to the impressive hardware and innovation of its own. The Kinect you see outdid the Wii by allowing players to forego controllers entirely using incredible motion capture technology to detect where your hands and your feet are at any given time. Unfortunately, a lack of software support has so far stilted the success of the add-on, but that looks set to change now that Microsoft is encouraging independent developers to get involved.
You might not have heard of it, but the Virtual Boy was an incredibly innovative and unique game device from the ever-innovative Nintendo. This was a 3D game device long before the 3DS that you wore on your head like a pair of glasses. The games were all in red and black which along with a steep asking price, unfortunately, limited the popularity of the device.
Nintendo didn’t give up on 3D though, which would ultimately lead to the success of the 3DS – a device with two screens and 3D graphics that don’t require glasses. And this looks like another one of those times when innovation might pay off, as the 3DS is currently actually beating the PSP Vita despite being significantly less powerful.
The Dreamcast was SEGA’s swansong device, but that wasn’t for lack of innovation. This machine was both one of the first to enable online gameplay, and notable for featuring the ‘VMU’ device that allowed gamers to take a smaller device away from their console in order to continue playing or developing characters. Just another reason that SEGA was such a loss to the gaming hardware industry.
While some core gamers might feel that including the iPad is some kind of sacrilege, it has nevertheless undoubtedly opened up gaming to a large audience, and at the same time offering a new way to enjoy them. With a crisp screen, intuitive control, and great delivery system this has certainly rocked the gaming industry and is undoubtedly a pretty cool gadget. If a tablet is more your thing out of all these gadgets, check these other gaming tablets.