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A pointing device used to move an object on screen in any direction. It employs a vertical rod mounted on a base with one or two buttons. Joysticks are used extensively in video arcade games, and they were the primary game controller on home computers during the 1980s and 90s. PCs came equipped with a port dedicated to the joystick; however, that game port is no longer used, and the joystick has given way to much more elaborate controllers with several buttons, triggers and dials. The term comes from the main control stick in a small airplane.

Old and New
Joysticks such as the unit on the left used to plug directly into the PC's game port. Today, gamers use Xbox controllers like the one on the right as well as far more elaborate devices, all of which plug into the USB port. See video game controller.

video game controller

The input device used to control a video game. Controllers have evolved from a single joystick with one button to devices with joy sticks, pedals and dozens of buttons. See gaming keyboard, video game console, joystick and Kinect.

Full Cockpit Controls
Capcom's Steel Battalion controller for the Xbox puts the gamer inside a futuristic robotic war machine. It uses joysticks, levers, dials and more than 40 buttons to simulate the cockpit of the "Vertical Tank." (Image courtesy of Capcom Entertainment.)

The Gamepad
Also called "joypads" and "control pads," a gamepad is held in the hands and operated with both thumbs such as this wireless unit from Sony for its PlayStation3. Direction buttons, or a directional paddle, are typically on the left side with the action buttons on the right. (Image courtesy of Sony Corporation.)

Flight Simulator Controller
Perhaps the most elaborate game controller ever, high-end gaming PC maker MAINGEAR introduced a cockpit controller for diehard enthusiasts in 2012. With the monitor placed on top of the controller, you are flying the plane! For more information, visit

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