The Steam Controller and Other Ridiculous Ideas Throughout History
Natural selection made humans smart, adaptive, and real easy to eat, and as a result, we’ve always been defined by innovation and our ability to stay one step ahead of the things that want to eat us. We naturally try to find better, easier, more efficient ways to solve our problems, ranging from paperclips to indoor plumbing to penicillin. This week, Valve announced it would be continuing that human legacy of innovation with a new gaming console, complete with a brand-new and alien-looking controller featuring touch pads and a touch screen. As the internet has been quick to point out, THAT’S WHERE THE ANALOG STICKS GO, IDIOTS. And, like all leaps of innovation before it, leaps that require vision and perspective, leaps that could potentially fix problems we didn’t even know we had, it’s dumb and awful and I hate it.
Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it, which is a phrase I made up just now, so let’s take a look back at some other embarrassing attempts at innovation.
The iPad (2010)
What the hell is this thing? It’s just…a big iPhone? Like, 4 iPhones taped together? And the name is like the thing you use for your periods! GROSS. Listen here, Steve, I gave you the benefit of the doubt for a while but now I’m sick of your s**t. This “tablet” nonsense is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist; we can all just sometimes use a laptop and sometimes use a smartphone LIKE WE’VE ALWAYS DONE. I don’t want a slab of computer; I want my computer to fold in the middle and break if I touch it too hard. And you know what, buddy? America agrees with me. I can’t even remember the last time I saw that Steve guy making headlines, and I think we all know why: this iPad fiasco totally tanked his career. Better luck next time, champ.
Nintendo Wii (2006)
Another big swing and a miss for toy company Nintendo. After the humiliating failure of the Nintendo DS just two years earlier, they brought out a motion-based video game console, targeting casual gamers and – get this – people who didn’t already play games. You’re trying to sell games to people who don’t play games? Yeah, and I’m gonna try to sell citrus fruits to pirates, even though they’ve clearly spent years cultivating their scurvy. To quote another plugged-in reviewer, “American gamers are simply not ready to use their other senses in gaming yet, especially when Wii isn’t even trying to max out the visual and audible parts first.” In creating a console built for family fun and party games, Nintendo forgot one crucial, inescapable truth: gamers don’t have families or go to parties. Plus, if we’ve learned anything from the iPad, nothing kills a product like a weird name.
The Internet (1973)
Haha, yikes. Cute idea, but it got a little big for its britches for a minute there, didn’t it? Author and scientist Clifford Stoll summed it up beautifully in this Nostradamus-esque Newsweek article from 1995 entitled “The Internet? Bah!”:
“Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney.
“Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”
Amen, brother. Amen.
Yeah, genius, the sun only looks like it’s orbiting the Earth, but in a surprise twist it’s actually the other way around, because the universe is an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Come on, Copernicus. Get your head out of your ass.
So, while I think we should all give Gabe Newell and the team at Valve a big round of applause for trying their hardest, I think we’re all prettttty happy playing FPS, RTS, and MOBA games on the computer because console controllers are too imprecise and playing platformer, adventure, and fighting games on consoles because the keyboard is unwieldy for simpler controls. Pretttttty happy indeed.
Alli proved that gamers don’t go to parties by drinking alone with We’ve Devised (and Tested) a ‘GTA V’ Drinking Game and talked about the longest-standing tradition in gaming with 3 Reasons Your Misogyny is Boring.