Types of Joysticks

By Keri Honea

Joysticks were originally used in helicopters and other modes of aviation. When flight simulators were developed, joysticks naturally went along for the ride to make the simulation more realistic. Since then, joysticks have become the most popular form of game controllers for arcade games as well as home video game consoles.

Digital Joysticks

Atari 2600 Joystick

Digital joysticks are the most common joysticks used for PCs, employing simple left, right, up, down and firing commands. They are also called "Atari-style" digital joysticks, since they were first implemented with the Atari 2600 video game system.

Paddle Joysticks

Atari Paddle Joystick

Paddle joysticks consist of one knob used to control the game and one firing button. This is one of the oldest joysticks, as it was first introduced with the very first home video game consoles.

Analog Joysticks

Dual Analog Joystick

Analog joysticks combine both concepts presented in the digital and paddle joysticks; they control the game like a digital joystick, but also use potentiometers to measure the movements like the paddle joysticks.

PC Analog Joysticks

USB Joystick

IBM first presented this joystick with their personal computer. It's a simple analog-styled joystick with multiple buttons that usually connects via an USB port.

Joypads

NES Controller

Joypads are joysticks without the sticks. Instead, they employ a directional pad (D-pad) to control the game. Joypads are considered a bit primitive, but they are still featured among the current video game controllers.

About the Author

Keri Honea has a Master of Arts in technical writing from the University of North Texas, but did not become a full-time writer until early 2008. She is currently a technical writer for Content Solutions where she provides web site content and assists with designing and writing public relations materials for various companies. She also writes for the Examiner as a video game journalist.