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Exploring the Different Types of Gaming Controllers

Posted by Zuzanna Kurtys on

man holding black gaming controller, space in background


Since the release of the Atari and Intellivision, game devices have advanced significantly.Today, gamers can select from a broad range of controllers, each of which offers special features and advantages. We'll examine the various controller types available in this piece, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.


digital illustration of console controller

The most basic type of gaming controller is the traditional console controller, which is designed to be used with home video game consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation. These controllers typically have two thumbsticks, a d-pad, and several buttons. They are designed to be held in both hands and have been optimized for console gaming, such as first-person shooters, fighting games, and sports games.


- Ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in the hands of players.

- Includes multiple buttons and triggers to allow for a wide range of control schemes.

- Generally less expensive than other gaming peripherals.

- Cable length is often adequate for larger living rooms.


- Not as precise as a keyboard and mouse for certain types of games.

- May not be suitable for people with small hands or limited finger dexterity.

- Not compatible with PC gaming.

- Limited range of motion compared to the more sophisticated gaming peripherals.


digital illustration of pc gaming controller

Another popular type of controller is the PC gaming controller, which is designed to be used with personal computers. PC gaming controllers typically have more buttons and thumbsticks than console controllers, and they often include additional features such as programmable buttons and backlit keys. These are popular for PC gamers who play a wide variety of games, from first-person shooters to role-playing games.


  1. PC controllers offer a great deal of control and accuracy that can’t be matched by other controller types.
  2. PC controllers typically come with more buttons than their console counterparts, allowing for more complex inputs.
  3. PC controllers are usually much more comfortable to use than console controllers. 4. PC controllers are usually more reliable than console controllers.


  1. PC controllers are often more expensive than console controllers.
  2. PC controllers require more setup than console controllers, as they must be plugged in and configured for each game.
  3. PC controllers don’t always work with every game, so compatibility must be checked before buying one.
  4. PC controllers may require additional software to work properly, which can be a hassle to install.


illustration of arcade style gaming controller

For gamers who prefer the traditional feel of arcade gaming, there are arcade-style controllers available. These controllers are modelled after the classic arcade cabinets and feature a joystick and several buttons. They are popular among fighting game enthusiasts and are also well-suited for retro gaming.


  • Intuitive Design: Arcade-style gaming controllers are designed to be user-friendly and easy to use. They often feature large buttons and ergonomic grips, making them comfortable for long gaming sessions.
  • Responsive Functionality: Arcade-style controllers tend to be very responsive and have a low latency, giving gamers the ability to react quickly to in-game action.
  • Accessibility: Arcade-style controllers are widely available and typically come with a variety of adapters that allow them to be used on different gaming systems. This makes them a great choice for gamers who want to play on multiple platforms.


  • Cost: Arcade-style controllers tend to be more expensive than other types of gaming controllers.
  • Limited Compatibility: While arcade-style controllers typically come with adapters, they are not always compatible with all gaming systems. Additionally, some games may not be optimized for use with an arcade-style controller.
  • Limited Features: Arcade-style controllers often lack features such as analog sticks and rumble motors, which can be found on more advanced controllers.


illustration of mobile gaming controller


Mobile gaming has also become increasingly popular in recent years and with that came a rise of mobile gaming controllers. These controllers are designed to be used with smartphones and tablets and they typically have a small form factor, making them easy to take on the go. They connect to mobile devices wirelessly and some can also be paired with computers or game consoles, making them versatile controllers.


-Mobile gaming controllers provide a more comfortable and precise way to play mobile games. -They offer improved accuracy and faster reactions when playing games that require quick reflexes.

-They are portable and can be easily carried around, allowing gamers to play wherever they go.

-They are compatible with a wide range of devices, making it easy for players to find a controller that fits their device.


-Mobile gaming controllers can be expensive, so they may not be an option for casual gamers.

-They require batteries, which need to be replaced frequently.

-They may not be compatible with all mobile games, so some players may find their controller is not compatible with their favorite game.

-They cannot be used to play console games, so console gamers will not be able to use their controller for both platforms.


illustration of specialized gaming controller


For competitive gaming, specialized gaming controllers have been designed, such as fighting sticks, which are specifically built for fighting games. They usually have a similar layout as arcade controllers, but with more buttons and added customization options like Sanwa/Seimitsu parts.


  • Specialized gaming controllers are designed to make gaming easier and more enjoyable by providing an ergonomic and comfortable experience that is tailored to specific gaming genres.
  • Specialized gaming controllers usually have extra buttons and functions that are designed to give gamers a competitive edge.
  • Many specialized gaming controllers also have customizable settings that allow players to customize the controls to their own preferences.


  • Specialized gaming controllers can be expensive, especially if they are high-end models.
  • Specialized gaming controllers may not be compatible with certain games or consoles.
  • Specialized gaming controllers may require a certain amount of skill to use effectively, which can be a barrier for some players.


illustration of modern gaming controller


In addition to these traditional types of controllers, there are also newer, more innovative controllers available. Virtual reality gaming controllers, such as the Oculus Touch and the PlayStation VR Move controllers, provide a more immersive gaming experience. They allow gamers to physically interact with the virtual world. Similarly, motion-sensing controllers, such as the Wii Remote and PlayStation Move, allow gamers to control their characters and actions by physically moving their bodies.


illustration of pro grade gaming controller

One major trend in recent years has been the development of “pro-grade” controllers. Pro-grade controllers are designed to provide a competitive edge to serious gamers. These controllers usually have customizable button layouts, adjustable thumbstick sensitivity, and triggers that can be adjusted for a more precise and responsive feel.


- Pro-grade gaming controllers are made with superior quality materials, making them more durable and long lasting than controllers made for general-purpose gaming.

- Pro-grade gaming controllers provide more precise control over the game. The buttons and sticks are often more responsive, making it easier to make quick, accurate movements.

- Pro-grade gaming controllers are designed with advanced features such as adjustable rumble settings, programmable buttons and paddles, and ergonomic designs that make playing more comfortable.


- Pro-grade gaming controllers are usually more expensive than controllers made for general-purpose gaming.

- Pro-grade gaming controllers can be difficult to set up and use, as they require more technical knowledge and skill.

- Pro-grade gaming controllers may not be compatible with all gaming systems.


illustration of cross-play gaming controller


Another trend is the adoption of Cross-play, where a game that can be played on multiple platforms with the same controller, even on different systems. This allows gamers to play with their friends regardless of what platform they are on.


-Cross-play gaming controllers are incredibly versatile and allow for a greater level of control over the game.

-They provide a wide range of motion and feedback from the controller, allowing for a more immersive and accurate gaming experience.

 -The controllers are often designed to be ergonomic, making them comfortable to hold and use.

-The controllers are also compatible with multiple gaming platforms, allowing you to use the same controller on different systems.


-The controllers can be quite expensive, with some models costing upwards of £100. -The controllers are often quite bulky and may not be suitable for those with small hands.

-The controllers can be complicated to set up, and may require additional software or hardware to properly configure. -The controllers can be difficult to find, as they are not always readily available in stores.


No matter which type of gaming controller you choose, please consider the types of games you play and your personal needs. Different controllers are better suited for different types of games and play styles, so it's worth taking the time to find the right one.

The gaming controller landscape has grown and diversified over the years, with a wide variety of options available to suit the different gaming preferences and playstyles of players. From traditional console controllers, to pro-grade and mobile controllers, the gaming industry is dedicated to providing gamers with more immersive and personal gaming experiences, as well as keeping up with the trends like Cross-play and customization options. With the constant evolution of technology, it will be exciting to see what new innovations in gaming controllers will come in the future.

futuristic gaming controller


Looking for a gaming controller? We are proud to offer refurbished gaming controllers for all your gaming needs. Our selection includes controllers for Xbox, PowerA, Nintendo consoles and many more. All of our controllers are expertly refurbished to work as new. We make sure they are tested and inspected to the highest standards to ensure they are in top condition. With our controllers, you can enjoy the same performance and comfort as a brand new controller without the hefty price tag. Visit our Student Computers store and get your hands on the perfect gaming controller for you!


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