OmniGamer

Top 5 peripherals that will change how we game

Peripherals have always occupied a unique place in video games. Some fizzle on the market like the Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, while others, like the Guitar Hero guitars, provide unique gaming experiences you can’t get on a standard gamepad. As technology progresses, so too do the design and functionality of video game peripherals. We currently stand at the brink of what I believe will be the golden age of peripheral hardware. Right now, some of the best peripheral developers in the world are presently working on devices that will fundamentally change the way people play, and think about, video games.

Here are five peripherals that I believe will do just that.

5. MOGA ACE POWER

 moga-ace-power

What is it?

The MOGA ACE POWER is a portable controller peripheral for iPhone 5/S, and iPod Touch 5th generation. This attachment essentially gives all the same control functionality that consoles have– dual analog sticks, should buttons, d-pads – to your iOS devices. The best part? It’s small. The MOGA ACE POWER comes in a collapsible, pocket sized shape, perfect for gaming on the go. The second you want to play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on your phone you can just whip it out of your pocket, expand its length, and effortlessly pop your phone in. The MOGA ACE POWER even has an internal battery, boosting your iOS device’s battery life for even more gaming goodness.

Why is it on the list?

At first glance, a controller attachment for iOS devices doesn’t seem entirely revolutionary. But the truth is, it’s going to change the landscape and scope of iOS games. Mobile gaming on smartphones and similar devices has been experiencing rapid growth pretty much since its inception. Unfortunately, the touch screen and motion sensor controls have been holding it back from being a truly dynamic experience. A popular example is Resident Evil: Degeneration for iOS. The game is known for providing a solid recreation of the classic series’s atmosphere and style, but is hampered by it’s clunky control scheme.

Right now, mobile games are better than ever. As a consumer, you can pretty much find anything you want to play. Hankering for something like Skyrim? The Ravensword series is right up your alley then. Want to play a console classic? Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is just a small purchase away. With the MOGA ACE POWER, iOS gaming can break through the control barrier and ascend to true greatness.

4. Tactical Haptics’s Reactive Grip

Reactive-Grip-controller-by-Tactical-Haptics

What is it?

Created by Tactical Haptics, the Reactive Grip is a controller designed to create a more immersive games experience by providing the user with active, physical feedback. Sliding contactor bars alongside the motion controller’s handles move in response to force and torque cues from games, simulating sensations like weight and force. Essentially, the controller tracks players’ hand motions and provides the appropriate simulated feedback in response. If you fire a gun in your game, you’ll feel the kick back. If you play a fishing game, you’ll feel the slightest tug of a fish on your line.

Why is it on the list?

Physical feedback is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of gaming. The last time mainstream gaming saw any form of innovation in this field was in the form of rumble controls, which debuted back in 1997. What I like about the Reactive Grip controller, is how flexible its functionality is. The controller can quite literally improve all games with its physical feedback. Think about how intense Skyrim sword fights would become with the Reactive Grip’s implementation. Or even how a sharp turn would feel while driving in a Grand Theft Auto game.

Not only that, but if you have two reactive grip controllers, you can combine them to simulate steering wheels, two-handed swords, tommy guns and more. The only reason the Reactive Grip isn’t ranked higher on this list is because they didn’t reach their crowdfunding goal. Tactical Haptics has stated via comments on their Facebook page that they’re committed to releasing to product, it’ll just be a bit longer before consumers can experience this revolutionary piece of technology.

3. Virtuix Omni

Virtuix-Omni

What is it?

The Virtuix Omni is an omnidirectional treadmill designed to track players’ movements and replicate them in virtual worlds. With the Omni, players can walk, run, and crouch in their games, creating a truly immersive virtual reality experience. The Omni isn’t a treadmill in the traditional sense– it has no moving parts. Instead, players wear special shoes that reduce friction and walk on a concave platform base in any direction they choose. The Omni allows players to explore players to explore their favorite virtual worlds first hand, and also get a nice workout in the process. It’s a hand free device too, meaning players can have some form of peripheral or controller in their hands while they’re moving around.

Why is it on the list?

Much like with the Reactive Grip, it’s hard not to imagine a game that’s not improved in some way by the Omni. It’s a device that truly brings game immersion to the next level by allowing you to walk around in previously inaccessible virtual worlds. Bethesda’s trademark open-world adventures immediately come to mind as a beneficiary of the Omni. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to step foot in Fallout 3’s Capital Wasteland. The Omni, unfortunately, does appear to be playable in smaller doses due to its sheer physicality. Because the players are actually performing the movements, it’s likely that they’ll get tired easier and have to clock out after an hour or so. With this in mind, I see the Omni doing quite well at arcades like Dave & Busters, where players can get their brief entertainment out of it before moving on to something else.

2. Sixense STEM System

STEM Sixense

What is it?

Remember when the Nintendo Wii was first announced and how everyone got excited about the potential of motion control technology? And remember the disappointment that followed when it turned out that the Wii controller wasn’t as responsive as everyone wanted it to be? Well Sixense’s STEM System delivers on all of the Wii’s potential, and then some.

The STEM system is a modular, wireless, motion tracking control system that supports up to five motion tracker modules. These modules can be configured in a number of ways, from tracking full body positioning to precise tracking of head and arm orientation. STEM’s motion controls are so sophisticated that they’re being incorporated into a number of other gaming peripherals, including the Virtuix Omni and Tactical Haptics’s Reactive Grip.

Why is it on the list?

What’s notable about the STEM System is simply how adept it is at what it purports to do. Nearly every major gaming publication that has come in contact with the peripheral has raved about it. It provides nearly flawless one to one motion tracking without needing to be in the line of sight of a sensor bar or camera– you can keep STEM modules in your pocket and it’ll still pick up everything. While Sixense has shown off the STEM system at work in a number of popular titles like Left 4 Dead 2, perhaps its most fascinating aspect is how it transforms ordinarily pedestrian acts in games, like climbing a ladder, into engaging, immersive experiences.

1. Oculus Rift

Oculus-Rift

What is it?

This is it, the big one. The Oculus Rift is a revolutionary virtual reality headset that features immersive stereoscopic 3D rendering and a wide 110-degree field of view. The head motion sensors in the Rift track players’ movements with low latency, meaning that when you turn your head, the image follows you with minimal dragging, creating the illusion that you’re looking around in the virtual world. In short, with the Rift you can look one direction while moving in the other– a control design that hasn’t been done too well in games in the past. The Rift is, without a doubt, the first step to a true virtual reality gaming experience.

Why is it on the list?

There’s no doubt about it, the Oculus Rift is the future of gaming. Developers have truly taken to the device, with notable industry figures such as Gabe Newell, John Carmack, and Cliff Bleszinski attesting to the Rift’s ability to immerse players like never before. Even though the consumer version of the Rift has yet to be released, developers are already designing their peripherals and games to make strong use of it. For example, promotional materials show that the STEM System, the Virtuix Omni, and Tactical Haptics’s Reactive Grip all make use of the Rift in some fashion. In fact, though while it may be a bit before the Oculus Rift is on home consoles, it’s certainly going to make waves in the PC gaming market.

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It is a truly exciting time to be a gamer. From unprecedented degrees of motion control to the revolutionary steps towards reaching virtual reality, the kind of which we’ve only seen in movies, it is undeniable that peripheral developers are more ambitious and innovative now more than ever. While only time will tell what impact peripherals like the Virtuix Omni and Sixense STEM system have on video games, their innovations will not go unnoticed.

Written by

Matthew Stolpe plays video games for the unique stories the medium offers, not their eye-popping graphics. As gaming blossoms into an art form in its own right, Matthew is dedicated to providing fast, reliable, and high-quality news to the gaming community.

2 Comments to “Top 5 peripherals that will change how we game”

  1. Dave says:

    A year before the STEM and Tactical Haptics were announced I saw this peripheral that’s in development for the PlayStation 4. Looks like the makers of the STEM must have seen it too based on the similarity of the design.

    http://www.playhouseentertainment.com

  2. Dan says:

    Combine 2 & 4 and add the other two then yes, any one alone isn’t going to really change how we game.
    Phone gaming is never going to be immersive enough to warrant spending practically any money on additional peripherals. Phone gaming is supposed to be quick for when you’re waiting for the bus or something, not long drawn out gaming sessions – if you want that then you’d get a DS or Vita. Plus given that it’s only for the iOS you’re alienating about 65% of the market – and even if you’re optimistic and say 50% of those will get it that’s hardly going to change how we game.

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