Faces: The PlayStation Controller

15 years ago, Sony decided to join the console wars  in the mid 90’s after a bitter end with the supposed partnership with Nintendo  to develop the PlayStation.

With the debut of the PlayStation; Sony alone managed to change the way we see in video games today, along with the console debut, they also unveiled their design for the PlayStation gamepad, in which still retain its original design after two generations of consoles, only with some additional features to the gamepad.

The “handlebar” design of the controller gives it a unique look from the other traditional controllers of other consoles and it has that comfortable feel even if played for long periods of time.

Aside from the design, they also introduced the symbols for their face buttons instead of the traditional alphabet letters, at a first glance, the symbols have no special meanings, but in fact each symbol has a meaning:

Triangle symbolizes viewpoint, that is why in early games, the triangle button is for changing camera views.

Square symbolizes a piece of paper, so in some RPGs, the square button is designed to open the character/game menu.

And finally the X and Circle button is for the Yes or No decision, depending on the region, the X may refer to No and Circle as Yes and vice versa.


Now let’s take a look at the different version of the PlayStation, from the prototype design up to the latest generation the PlayStation 3.


Prototype version

Before the release of the first PlayStation in 1994, the development kit that was sent to game developers uses a very familiar game controller. Since they originally  planned to partner with Nintendo for a new gaming console, the prototype controller has the similarities of the Super Nintendo gamepad but in an upside-down design along with six-button layout and 2 shoulder buttons. This design was turned down in the final version and to give way to a new design that we now know today.



PlayStation controller (1994-1996)

This is the start of the “handlebar” design that is still remains to this day as their standard design. It features four face buttons and four shoulder buttons, it also include a Start and Select button. The gamepad undergo several changes that gave way to the next controller…




PlayStation Dual Analog/Dual Shock (1997-1998)

Sony was finding ways to give players a better way to control the camera movement and character movement in 3D, so as a result, the dual Analog controller was born. The design was still the same only with the inclusion of two thumbsticks along with an “Analog” button to active the thumbsticks (although few games only supported this feature). Then at the same year, they improved the thumbsticks design and added rumble feedback feature and renamed it the “Dual Shock” (because it has two motors inside for the rumble feedback) and it became the new standard controller in future PlayStation Consoles.




PlayStation 2  Dual Shock 2 (2000-2006)

With the release of the PlayStation 2 in 2000, Sony decided to retain the Dual Shock Design, but instead changed the color and added pressured sensitive buttons.




PlayStation 3 Boomerang design

As Sony revealed the PlayStation 3, they changed the controller’s design, it is now curved shaped, similar that of a boomerang, to give it a space-age look. But they decided to stick with the original design instead.




PlayStation 3 Sixaxis/Dual Shock 3 (2006-present)

In the first release of the PlayStation 3 in 2006, many players were disappointed that Sony removed the Dual Shock feature, instead they added the Sixaxis feature where it has motion control on the gamepad and it is now uses Bluetooth wireless connection. A year after, Sony decided to return the Dual Shock but still added the Sixaxis feature to it, giving a two-in-one package to the controller.





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