Choosing your game controller

Joysticks come in two varieties: for arcade-style combat games and retro gamers, there are arcade sticks, which are small joysticks on a panel with a set of six or more buttons. The other joystick type, flight sticks, are larger and have controls and triggers on the stick itself, emulating the mechanisms in real-life combat jets. Civilian aircraft flight simulation fans will want to look into steering yokes and rudder pedals, which mimic an aircraft cockpit and require hands and feet for full control. Steering-wheel controls are designed for car-racing games, and the best ones come with gear shifters, pedals and force feedback, which creates vibrations in the controller that simulate the feel of actually driving a racecar.

Gaming enthusiasts should keep the following in mind when purchasing a controller:

  • Look for durable parts and solid construction that will stand up to heavy use. Whether you are mashing buttons in an arcade-style combat game or leaning into a dive in a flight simulation, the physical exertion of intense computer games requires durable, well-built controllers.
  • The controller should feel relaxed and natural in your hand. The best-reviewed controller might not be the best fit for your hand or foot, though some controllers have adjustable parts.
  • Check for customizable buttons and profile memory. Every game is different, and each requires different play mechanics. That's why it's nice to have a controller that allows you to customize buttons to maximize the gameplay experience. Many controllers allow you to save profiles for specific games.
  • Console compatibility enhances the value of your purchase. Not all game controllers work solely for the PC. Those that allow you to play on an Xbox or PlayStation as well will enhance your experience on multiple gaming systems.
  • Consider your physical setup. Some game controllers are massive, simulating real-world steering wheels or arcade games. If you do not have sufficient desk or table space for mounting your devices, you should look at smaller, portable options.

Back to top