B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Controller)

Image by Flickr user Brian J. Matis (CC)
Image by Flickr user Brian J. Matis (CC)

While out with friends the other night, a discussion about sharing arose. At first the topic centered around food and couples and the issue of “stealing” food from each other’s plates. The majority of folks (including my husband and I) couldn’t abide by the notion, saying that when each ordered a plate of food it was automatically implied that the individual meals would be consumed only by the person ordering.  Food from one plate would only be shared at the expressed verbal request by the other party AND the food owner’s agreement to do so.

And then I proceeded to steal a french fry from my husband’s plate. Partially in jest. Partially because I wanted a french fry.

As the conversation progressed, the subject of sharing broadened to possessions, especially collections of collectible toys, comic books and video games. What were the boundaries to sharing (and by extension, borrowing and trading) then? With friends? With children (your own and others)? Each of us at the table admitted to having at least one thing/collection that we would not, under any circumstances, share with other people. My thing was video game controllers.

I learned about the importance of possessing one’s own video game controllers during the years of playing Street Fighter with my brother. We wrecked a strong number of Super Nintendo controllers (and I swore up and down that I always ended up with the more broken controller, haha), and after awhile, my parents stopped caring about our broken stuff. Either we had to play less hard (yeah right!), deal with all the broken-ness, or buy own our controllers. I wanted to do the latter, but I ended up dealing with the pain because, hell, I didn’t want to spend my hard-earned allowance on a stupid controller! Those things weren’t cheap, and when it came right down to it, I’d have rather had a new game.

Shoot, I probably could have become a Street Fighter champion if it hadn’t been for a failing “B” button…but I digress.

Dealing with those busted Super Nintendo controllers developed a mindset that I had to have my own controller for any future video game systems that entered my life. This sentiment was reinforced when I met my husband and his PlayStation. I could play yes, but I had to use his “guest” controller (which eventually became “my” controller). Though it looked no different from “his” controller, it felt different, he said. He understood his controllers’ quirks, from the stiff d-pad to the triangle button that sometimes didn’t work too well. He didn’t want anyone to alter that feel, or worse, accidentally break it further. From then on, we had to have at least two controllers for every system so that each person could break them in (or, just break them, though hopefully not) at his/her own accord.

In some cases, like with the N64, Playstation 1, and Gamecube, getting separate controllers simply mean picking up two in different colors. But I eventually ventured out into the world of specialty and off-brand controllers just because I wanted something different. I had a number of Mad Catz controllers for awhile, but now only retain its wired Xbox 360 controller that I use for some PC gaming. For the PlayStation 2, I impetuously picked up a “mini” controller because never really cared for the wide feel of the PS controllers. I found it to be remarkably useful, especially for fighting games.

With that same distaste of the standard PS controller in mind, one we got a PS3, I searched for a controller of my own and ended up getting a Pelican Afterglow controller. It happily glows a menacing shade of red, which I’m sure strikes fear into the heart of my opponents! Um… actually, the thing was on sale, and me being a cheap bastard, I couldn’t say no. Also, despite the cool(?) factor, the poor thing hasn’t worn very well thanks mostly to, ahem, Street Fighter IV and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The rubber grips on the handles have come loose and the rubbery covering on the analog sticks is shedding. Still, the thing works and I like it more than the PS controller, so there.

The nice thing about having these non-standard controllers is that nobody ever wants to use them. So the really are all mine. (You hear me…ALL MINE!! Mwahahaha!) Of course, we do have extra standard controllers, but they really only serve as backups in case something breaks.

So come on over to my house and play games some time! You are all more than welcome and it’ll be a blast. Bring your high spirits, bring your competitive natures, and please, bring your own controller.


What’s your stance on sharing when it comes to your geeky/gaming possessions? Will you happily hand over your stuff for others to use, or are you like me, a bit more miserly in distributing your well-worn things to friends and strangers?

Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play, United We Game, and 8bit Kitchen.

7 thoughts on “B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Controller)”

  1. I absolutely have to have my own controller, and it has to be the original brand. Could never get used to the mad catz feel on my ps systems. Though i did have a third party controller for my gamecube that i didn’t mind. Still, there’s nothing worse than when you can’t hit R3 to melee kill someone properly in cod due to a faulty controller

    1. As far a frustrating goes, problematic game controllers have to top the list. At least if you break something on your own controller, you know what to expect. But using someone else’s is just too much of a crap shoot — you never know what to expect there. Same goes for buying used controllers, which I did once but never again. (Got a classic controller for the Wii on a whim. Worked okay for a couple sessions before the left stick stopped responding.)

      Agreed that most third party controllers probably aren’t for everyone and take some getting used to. The original 360 controller feels so much better to use than the Mad Catz version, which is why I relegated it to sporadic PC play. And though I like the heft of my Afterglow controller, its stupid loose grips are annoying at times.

  2. I claimed the blue controller for my husband’s 360 when we started dating. I still use only that one, and he never does. It feels no different, I just like the blue!

  3. Those things are NOT cheap. My son used to let others “borrow”… my controller..! They would break, end up losing, or he would just forget about it. My hubby would mark his with paint pens, so he would know which one was his. We only have the X-box 360 now and 1 controller, our PS3 broke (aww), but I don’t even really play anymore. I’m too busy writing blogs.

    BTW.. I would also to be a Street Fighter champ on the Super Nintendo had the “B” button worked. It would always get stuck and I couldn’t do my Chun-Li kick

    1. We also went through a phase of “marking” our controllers — though we used stickers instead of paint pens. 😊 With the plethora of controllers in different colors and styles available now, we don’t have to do that anymore. (And the sticker collection is safe from further pilfering!)

      It never failed that at least one Street Fighter move would kill something on a controller. I’ve loosened up my fair share of d-pads and analog sticks in unleashing Zangeif’s 360 pile driver!

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