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Gaming History You Should Know – The History of the D-Pad April 30, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized.
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The D-Pad, an abbreviation of the term “Directional Pad”, is a universally included feature in any modern video game peripheral’s control device.  However, it wasn’t always like that.  In the early days of gaming, player control was done with joysticks and buttons. Even controllers for early game consoles like the Atari would follow suit and offered a joystick or dial-type controller.  It would not be until Nintendo launched the NES (or Famicom in Japan) that the D-pad was featured on a console controller, and by the time the Game Boy was released, it was obvious players could not live without it.

So who is responsible for creating the D-pad?  That would be the great Gunpai Yokoi.  Yes, the late father of the Game and Watch and Metroid can be credited with creating the most important controller feature in the past thirty years.

I’ll let Norman Caruso, better known to the internet as The Gaming Historian, take it from here.  He has an incredible YouTube Channel filled with a plethora of well-researched videos on the history of gaming and I encourage all of my readers to check it out!  So sit back, relax, and enjoy his tale of the history of the D-pad.

The only comment I think I could add about this that the Historian didn’t mention is that I remember seeing a commercial for a third-party NES controller that referred to the D-Pad as a “rocker switch”.  It was likely called this due to the fact the button rocked back and fourth on each axis.  I don’t think it would be officially regarded as the D-pad until after the 16-Bit generation launched.