Accessible gaming and a new console? Yes, please. This year’s E3 show revealed modest but solid innovations for gamers — and new opportunities for connectors.
This year, for the second year, the general public could attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the video gaming industry’s premier trade show. Those of us who couldn’t make it to Los Angeles in June could watch along on at home, and in many ways a screen-side seat was the most natural way to experience this event. Immersive, lengthy demos and trailers featuring highly anticipated new games like Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Cyberpunk 2077, and Fallout 76 made staying home the best way to experience the show. But we’re all about the hardware here.
First, the next generation of gaming consoles by Xbox and PlayStation is still in development, so this year’s E3 was short on blockbuster hardware releases. However, a raft of new accessories showcases the potential of nostalgia, virtual reality, and ever more micro-sized and responsive accessories to enhance the gaming experience. Here are a few things that caught our eye.
One of technology’s greatest achievements is its ability to expand possibilities and elevate quality of life for people marginalized by injury or disability. Microsoft’s new Adaptive Controller, scheduled for release this fall, will give gamers with a wide variety of disabilities the ability to get into the game via customized game play. This 11” pad lets users create individualized setups to play Xbox and PC games by connecting to a series of switches, buttons, joysticks, and mounts. This impressive example of inclusive design can be adapted for players with one hand, lack of fine motor control, and even vision impairments. A long row of 3.5mm input ports on the pad enables complete customization of controls — an amazing 19 ports, to be exact. Users can plug in equipment that corresponds with their needs. It’s ingenious and elegant. Good game, Microsoft.
Atari holds a special place in the heart of gamers, as evidenced by the massive success of recent reissues of its classic console, Now the company wants to make a proper comeback with a new console, scheduled for release in spring 2019. The Atari VCS, also called the Atari Box, is a sleek modern device with a contemporary joystick. It will be able to stream games and digital content, but the company is welcoming user innovation by utilizing an open source Linux-powered operating system. It features AMD architecture, connects to other devices using USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, and includes expandable USB memory, SD card slots, and an Ethernet jack. Oh, and it has sweet vintage faux-wood siding.
Virtual reality has dominated the show in the past two years, and in 2018, VR developments were everywhere at E3; although advancements at this point in the evolution are incremental rather than monumental. Oculus showed off its Oculus Go headset, which features an internal processor and storage, plus built-in audio drivers.
Lenovo’s new Legion line of gaming PCs included fresh laptops, towers, and cubes developed with the input of e-sports players and gamers. The line features modest but classy styling, increased speed and storage, enhanced graphics processing, and new cooling systems. The laptops look more like standard laptops than gaming machines, and the desktops feature handles and other features that make them more portable too, for people who like to take their machines to tournaments or friends’ houses.
Nintendo’s new controller, the Poké Ball Plus, fits into a player’s hand and enables game play through a button-type joystick that is manipulated with subtle thumb movements. It’s a novelty item aimed at the company’s devoted Pokémon enthusiasts but one that showcases highly responsive microelectronics and six hours of cordless play via a USB-C charging port.
Speaking of novelty items, Sega won E3 not with a new console, but with a new…toaster. The company is making a limited edition kitchen appliance that burns the face of its hyper blue hedgehog perfectly on a slice of toast — but only if 1,000 people sign up to buy one by July 12. Since it hasn’t been made yet, we haven’t seen a breakdown on components, but it could include a classic figure eight connector on the power cord, connectors on the dial, and, depending on the appliance, microminiature connectors for PCB, LED indicator light, and temperature sensor connections, all heat-shielded, of course. In today’s world, even the low-tech is high tech.
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