Foldable game controller concept solves portability in a different way

Gaming on the go is quite popular these days, whether it’s on a mobile phone, a handheld device, or even a laptop temporarily parked at a cafe. While video games have traditionally been divided into PC and console camps, this latest trend has made many gamers reach for controllers or devices with built-in controllers, regardless of their platform of choice. Wireless game controllers have become quite numerous because of this, ranging from typical designs to telescopic mechanisms that stretch to grip smartphones or even tablets. Of course, these two aren’t the only designs possible for portable gamepads, and this concept tries to approach the problem from a different angle, one that takes a page out of one of the trendiest smartphone designs of late: foldable phones.

Designer: Przemysław Wolnicki

The basic problem with game controllers is their innate bulk. You can’t really shrink them without sacrificing comfort and ergonomics. This makes them less appealing to quickly stow in bags, much less pockets, as you dash out the door in the hopes of being able to play later on. Even those who prefer to game at home might find the permanent presence of a large chunk of plastic to be visually distracting and might look for ways to minimize their footprint when not in use.

Swift is a game controller design concept that adopts a folding mechanism to make the device more compact in transit. Despite the fact that foldables aren’t new, it’s curious that this design hasn’t been adapted for game controllers at all. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to such a design, but those can hardly be verified unless tested in the real world.

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This controller concept adopts the more symmetrical button arrangement of a PlayStation controller, which would make the folded form also more balanced when folded. One curious detail about the design is the ribbed surface covering the middle and back of the controller. It’s not clear whether the choice of material is simply aesthetic, but it will definitely have an effect on the texture of the controller, which in turn affects comfort and ergonomics.

While a foldable controller design is definitely interesting and curious, it also raises a few questions as well. While the design does halve the width of the device, it doubles its thickness in turn. There might also be some concerns about the wear and tear this mechanism will incur over time, especially given the wires that have to run through the middle to connect the two halves. Perhaps that is the reason why a foldable design hasn’t been adopted for controllers, but this concept at least tries to encourage pushing the boundaries instead of just adopting the status quo.

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Scorpion-like chair is a computer cockpit made for immersive, lazy gaming

When speaking of computer chairs, you probably first think of overgrown office chairs with a tall back and plenty of padding. While that is indeed the most common design, there are some that take the idea to the extreme, creating what is better described as a cockpit rather than a chair. These often include not only a space to hide the desktop computer from view but also a way to mount not just one but multiple monitors as well. It’s an all-in-one battle station for gamers and computer users who want all their equipment in a single basket. But while that concept in itself is already unconventional, this rather peculiar design really pushes the envelope by embracing the form that immediately comes to mind when looking at these computer gaming “thrones”: a deadly metal scorpion.

Designer: Cluvens

Truth be told, we may have caught a glimpse of chairs with embedded computers and built-in monitors from sci-fi shows, but those have mostly remained the stuff of fiction and stage props until recently. There have been a few new designs surfacing lately, including from giant brands like Acer, and while some of these gaming pods or cockpits try to aim for a similarly futuristic aesthetic, the SK Scorpion puts a different twist on the idea. Instead of a piece of furniture, this over-the-top chair looks more like a sleek robotic insect designed to keep you within its grasp and keep distractions away.

The scorpion motif isn’t just for show, however. Just like the segmented “tail” of the scorpion, the chair’s back and top arch can actually move with a little flexibility, reclining the backrest down to an almost flat angle and moving the screens away for a more restful position. Instead of claws, the scorpion’s arms can swivel in and out, providing not only a place to put things but also some degree of customization for what is practically your small workspace. That said, the chair’s legs don’t inspire too much confidence and is one aspect of the design that tried to be too realistic without being practical.

As far as computer cockpits go, however, the functionality that the SK Scorpion provides isn’t exactly extraordinary. It can support up to three 29-inch monitors placed side-by-side, or more depending on your creativity, creating an immersive view that’s almost in your face. You sadly need to put a separate tray on top of the two arms for the keyboard and mouse, and other things you might need for play and even work, though there are accessories available for holding your cup and hanging your headset. There are no built-in lights as well, so you’ll have to make provisions for that on your own.

That feature list looks a bit sparse until you consider the $3,400 price tag, a mere fraction of what fully featured computer cockpits cost. The menacing scorpion design probably won’t appeal to all gamers, and its novelty will quickly wear off. At least its ability to almost like completely flat, providing gamers with a convenient though probably uncomfortable bed to take power naps, is admittedly intriguing. Then again, these designs are really meant more for hardcore gamers, those who don’t mind isolating themselves in a bubble, at least when they’re gaming.

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Futuristic mini PC is like a spaceship ready to take gaming to new heights

Is there a reason why desktops and even mini PCs mostly come in flat boxes? Electronics are still rigid objects, and they have to adhere to flat or similarly boxy designs with today’s engineering limitations. As such, a tower or a box is the most space-efficient container for these pieces that work together to provide all your computing needs. But what if space was less important than aesthetics, especially with today’s more compact hardware? That’s the kind of revolutionary mindset that this mini PC is trying to present with a chassis that is almost literally out of this world, looking more like a spaceship that’s ready to take off and elevate your gaming, and it does so literally as well.

Designer: ACEMAGIC

Mini PCs are no longer that alien to people’s ears, especially thanks to the popularity of the non-PC Mac mini and Mac studio. These computers emphasize compact designs that save you some desk space while still cramming as much power in a tiny boxy. That doesn’t have to be the only design available, however, especially with how small some computer components have become. After all, the latest breed of handheld gaming PCs are technically portable mini PCs, though with even bigger constraints when it comes to performance.

The ACEMAGIC M2A is a mini PC that throws design conventions out the door. Technically, its hardware can all fit in what would be a slim and minimalist rectangular box, but that would be boring and completely unoriginal. Instead, the company aimed to make its product stand out, almost literally, but making it look like a spacecraft similar to those you’d see on sci-fi flicks and shows. Specifically, the main body itself tapers slightly to the side and then splits upward and downward into fins. The style is largely polygonal, which matches the sci-fi theme, with LED accents in front and on the tip of the wings for added flavor.

The design admittedly takes up more vertical space on your desk, and it won’t be something you can conveniently place underneath your monitor (unless that monitor is set up on an ergonomic stand or arm). It is, after all, designed more to have some visual impact rather than space savings, but it does have one practical benefit, whether intentional or not. The bottom fins act as legs that lift the mini PC up, allowing for better airflow into the bottom-mounted fans.

Internally, the ACEMAGIC M2A tries to be a compact gaming PC, and it seems to meet that description, depending on your needs. It practically uses hardware from 2022, so it might not be up to snuff when it comes to more demanding AAA titles today. There are definitely more powerful mini gaming PCs in the market today, ones with the latest CPUs and GPUs, which makes you wonder if this spaceship-like computer’s high price tag is really worth that distinctive design.

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Odd modular game controller gives Xbox players with disabilities a helping hand

It’s about time that gaming companies and studios realize that there are people who would love to play their games and use their consoles but are hindered because of one physical disability or another. Accessibility has only recently been an advertised feature of games and gaming hardware, and it might take a while before it actually becomes a standard in the industry. Thankfully, major companies are leading the accessibility charge, giving birth to accessibility devices that may look weird but give all gamers, even those perfectly capable ones, incredible powers to enjoy games the way they want them. Take for example this newly announced Xbox-certified accessibility controller that almost looks like a small alien swarm thanks to its modular design.

Designer: ByoWave

For gamers with physical disabilities that relate to their hands or fine motor control, the typical game controller or keyboard, despite their ergonomic designs, is sometimes impossible to use. Thankfully, there has been an increased interest in developing more accessible control devices, spearheaded by the Xbox Adaptive Controller in 2018 and followed by the Sony Access Controller, previously dubbed “Project Leonardo,” last year. Of course, there are more than just two ways to design for accessibility, and ByoWave’s Proteus Controller is just the latest to turn heads with its unconventional mechanism and innovative idea.

In a nutshell, the Proteus Controller is made up of small, rounded cubes with some faces that can be changed to be a button, a D-Pad, a joystick, and more. These cubes can then connect to each other to form different shapes that cater to the needs of the gamer. It can, for example, be a single, curving stack that you can hold like a joystick, a 2×2 grid that you can mash like arcade buttons on a table, or even a conventional gamepad layout with the right accessories and connectors. It can support over a hundred such configurations and LED lighting combinations, letting the user decide how they want to play depending on their circumstances.

Of course, the controller is primarily designed to address the needs of gamers with disabilities, but it’s not hard to see how this will be popular with almost any gamer, especially those on the Xbox platform. The sheer number of options and combinations is mind-blowing, and some might even just make new controller designs just for the fun of it. It’s a clear example of how accessible design actually benefits everyone, and gamers will probably be excited for the arrival of the Proteus accessibility controller in the fall, especially given its starting price of $299.

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This Actually Playable LEGO Tetris Set Celebrates the Digital Game’s 40th Anniversary

Not only does this LEGO set let you slide bricks into place, it comes with a randomized brick generator, and even a scoreboard to capture your score!

A perfect tribute to one of the world’s most influential digital games (with perhaps the most riveting backstory of any game ever), this LEGO Ideas set comes from the mind of LEGO Builder ‘victorvey300’ who wanted to pay a hat-tip to Tetris on its 40th anniversary which first made its appearance in Russian game circles back in the early 80s, finally finding its way to Nintendo’s first Game Boy in 1985. The LEGO set comes in the form of a box with a lid that doubles as the game’s screen. Bricks sit in a container below, controls can be found on the bottom right, and the top right acts as a leaderboard. When all’s done, the box closes shut, ensuring that bricks don’t get lost.

Designer: victorvey300

Not to spoil the AppleTV+ movie for you, but the Tetris game has one of the most nail-biting backstories of all time. Developed by Alexey Pajitnov, a resident of the Soviet Republic in the 80s, Tetris was circulated heavily within the USSR on bootlegged floppy disks and finally made its way to an American sales representative for a gaming company. What ensued was literally Cold War espionage at its best. Henk Rogers, the American rep who discovered Tetris tried to buy the rights to the game on behalf of Nintendo, which was working on the first Game Boy handheld console. Tetris was to be a part of this revolutionary portable gaming device, but the Soviets weren’t ready to sell Tetris to any outsider without putting up a fight (all hardware and software sales outside the Union were controlled/authorized by a government agency). In the end, Pajitnov managed to escape Russia and also ended up selling the rights to Tetris, which featured on the first Game Boy, becoming the global sensation it is today. As a tribute to this story and to Alexey himself, the LEGO Ideas kit also comes with a minifigure of Pajitnov standing beside an old-school computer!

The beauty of this LEGO build lies in just how much attention to detail it has. The vault-shaped kit has Tetris graphics on the outside (with branding), and the inside is simply filled with features and details that allow as many as 6 players to actually play a full game of Tetris, complete with brick generators that tell you what the next brick should be.

Playing the game is delightfully simple. Bricks sit in a bin at the bottom, the playable area or the matrix grid is right in front with vertical channels to slide bricks down, and a treadmill-shaped panel on the bottom right lets you scroll to see what your next brick should be. Scroll with your right hand, find the corresponding brick with your left and drop it down the channel of your choice. It slides down instantly, landing in place just the way it would in a game. The only real difference is that you need to choose each brick’s orientation and position before you drop it into the channel. Pieces don’t rotate or move once they’ve been slid in.

A game of digital Tetris can go on for HOURS because every time you complete a row, it disappears, helping clear out a part of the screen for more gameplay. That feature doesn’t exist in this LEGO version, which makes for a fairly shorter game… but calculating scores is much easier, allowing you to correspond the uppermost complete row to the line on the scoreboard right beside it. You can, however, reset the entire game in a flash by hitting the red Reset button on the left side of the matrix grid and have all the bricks drop down into the bin below. The alternative would be to manually lift each brick out of the lid, which sounds a little too problematic…

The Tetris bricks are referred to as tetrominoes, and come in 7 shapes that correspond with letters of the alphabet (I, O, T, J, L, S, and Z). The bricks are color-coded to make things easier to understand (after all, we recognize colors MUCH faster than we do shapes) for all people, and the game allows as many as 6 players, with colorful studs that you can press into the scoreboard to mark your highest scores.

This LEGO kit comes from the mind of independent builder victorvey300, who put his passion for LEGO and his love for Tetris together to create this incredibly comprehensive MOC (my own creation). Victor’s submission is a part of LEGO’s Ideas forum, a community-driven site where passionate LEGO creators build their own structures and users vote for their favorite ones. With over 5000 votes, this LEGO Tetris set is cruising comfortably to hit the 10,000 vote mark, which is then followed by LEGO’s own internal team reviewing the submission before turning it into a retail set. If you want, you can vote for the LEGO Ideas Tetris set too simply by visiting the LEGO Ideas website here.

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PPSSPP PSP Emulator Now Available on iOS App Store

PPSSPP, a popular app for emulating PSP games, has made its debut on the iOS App Store, joining the expanding roster of retro game emulators available for iOS users. Despite being around for nearly 12 years, PPSSPP was previously accessible only through unofficial methods. Developer Henrik Rydgård announced the release, expressing gratitude to Apple for easing its policies to allow retro game console emulators on the store. This change follows Apple’s update to its developer guidelines in early April, which has since seen the approval of emulators for Game Boy, DS, and PS1 games.

Free and Paid Versions

The PPSSPP app is free to download, but Rydgård has mentioned to The Verge that a $5 gold version is in the works. While the paid version on Android includes a few extra features, its primary purpose is to support Rydgård’s continued development of the emulator. The current iOS version does not support the Magic Keyboard for iPad due to initial compatibility being achieved via an undocumented API. Additionally, the Retro Achievements feature is not available yet, but Rydgård plans to reintroduce it in future updates.

Performance and Limitations

Unlike its counterparts on other platforms, the App Store version of PPSSPP does not support the Just-in-time (JIT) compiler, which enhances code execution efficiency. This limitation is due to Apple’s current rules, which, unless changed, will prevent JIT support in the iOS version. However, Rydgård reassures users that most iOS devices are sufficiently powerful to run nearly all PSP games at full speed, so performance differences may be minimal.

Game Availability

As with other emulators, PPSSPP on iOS includes only the emulator software. Users must source their own game files, as Apple prohibits the distribution of games without proper licensing. This means players will need to find their own PSP game files to use with the emulator.

With the launch of PPSSPP on the iOS App Store, fans of retro gaming now have more options for enjoying classic PSP titles on their iPhones and iPads. The continued development and updates promise to enhance the user experience and functionality over time.

The post PPSSPP PSP Emulator Now Available on iOS App Store appeared first on OhGizmo!.

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3D Printed Chess Set pays respect to the Ukraine invasion with a poignant war-themed design

Unless you are Elon Musk and believe chess is “too simple to be useful in real life,” you know, chess is a strategic and competitive game. It requires meticulous planning and clear objectivity. If you don’t have an objective in mind, your moves will be directionless and you will end up wasting time thinking and moving without purpose. Through the gameplay, it instills cognitive thinking, benefits mental well-being, and can now be a source of thoughtful restoration in the war-torn Ukraine.

Cuibiono, a design-first not-for-profit, has been at the forefront of providing aid to the regions where geopolitical conflicts like war have damaged humanity. With the new chess set, it has conceived using recycled biomaterials (PLA) and 3D printing, the NGO is giving everyone a chance to jump onto their journey of creativity, sustainability, and giving back, helping make a difference and restore homes in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Designer: Cuibiono

The stackable chess set is inspired by the war-torn and displaced Kharkiv, which has been on the receiving end of the Russian invasion. Called the Kindachess – S, this set 3D-printed from naturally degradable bioplastics – features a board segmented to depict the nation under war. It is designed as fractures on the earth’s crust. But when it’s stacked to be stored, the dividing lines on the board form the Ukrainian flag to depict unity and the satisfaction of returning home.

The idea of a chess set whose profit from sales proceeds would go into restoring homes in Kharkiv is the brainchild of designer Liam Hwang of Cuibiono. The compact, stackable chess set is 3D printed sustainably in Hackney, London. It measures 200mm x 200mm when laid out for playing and fits into a case measuring 290mm x 164mm after use.

This is not Cuibiono’s first such sustainably driven product with the idea of giving back. The NGO states, “we are committed to sustainability.” All the products designed in their facilities are crafted with eco-friendly materials (like recycled PLA in the case of the chess set). The chess set, selling in two color contrasts: wheat and sky, ivory and walnut, is now available at £200 (approximately $250). Buy now, and support the cause becoming a part of the community that cares.

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