Evolution of the Console Controller – Microsoft SideWinder 3D Pro (2011)

SideWinder is the name of a series of game controllers released by Microsoft for home computers. This particular model is the first joystick in the SideWinder line. Called the 3D Pro, it features an analog stick, 8 buttons, an 8-way hat switch, a throttle, and the ability to twist the stick left and right. Intended as a generalist joystick rather than a stick specialized only for flight simulators, the controller is still not suited to genres like platformers. The 3D Pro was well received at release and proved popular among players of the Mechwarrior series.

Compare this joystick with previous stick offerings like those for the Atari 2600 and 5200. Note how sticks progressed from one button and digital input to many inputs and a design more appropriate for flying games yet less appropriate for other genres. By the time of the release of the 3D Pro, the D-Pad and analog stick were the dominant directional input device for consoles. To this day, joysticks like the 3D Pro and its successors are used primarily for flying games and are rarely used for classic style genres.

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Gift of Randall Neff, 2011.003.002