[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Virtual Reality, Real Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

June 23rd, 2008 by Benj Edwards

Video Game Glove Controller Ad - 1998“…easy after you spend a day on it.” Then your hand snaps off.

Of all the weird contraptions pitched by obscure third-party controller manufacturers, the Video Game Control Glove ranks among the worst. I have but a simple question: in what way was the regular Nintendo 64 controller bad enough to inspire someone to redesign it into an impractical novelty shape that likely promotes wrist injury? Better yet, why does anybody do anything stupid?

Because somebody, somewhere, thought it was a good idea at the time. (And someone else gave them money.)

Image DescUpon closer inspection of this ad, you’ll notice that the company behind this needless exercise in hand strain called itself “Reality Quest.” That explains a lot: exactly 83% of the dumbest video game peripherals ever made were ill-conceived attempts to capitalize on the early 1990s media hype around “virtual reality” (case in point, the StuntMaster headset). At the time, virtual reality was always just around the corner, courtesy of strap-on goggles and gangly game gauntlets that engulfed your hand in gaudy gadgetry.

I’ve never used the Glove; my guess is that it falls somewhat short of turning Mario 64 into an immersive virtual reality experience. But the next time I need a controller whose function requires rapid, repetitive contortions of one of weakest and least durable joints in the human body, I’ll keep it in mind.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1998 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What’s the worst video game peripheral you’ve ever bought?

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6 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Virtual Reality, Real Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”

  1. SirPaul Says:

    The worst video game peripheral? That’s a tough one, since I mostly just use stock equipment for my systems/games.. When I was young, one of the controllers on my NES broke, and my parents bought an NES Max as a replacement. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it did take a while to get used to the funky replacement to the D-pad..

  2. Spook Says:

    The NES Max wasn’t so bad – the d-pad was weird, but an interesting middle ground between your typical joystick of the day and the analog sticks on our consoles now. I found it easier to to use by just pressing the outer ring instead of fiddling with the slider-button.

    I did like that there were turbo buttons right above the standard ones. Despite how much I like the NES Advantage, I was often bothered by having to turn that feature off and on — though, being able to adjust it was pretty nifty. Probably the best joystick of the era.

    As for this torture device, yow. Did they manage to sell any?

  3. Multimedia Mike Says:

    I don’t have too much experience with peripherals, but I have strong memories of the worst peripherals I ever tried: Early Nintendo wireless controllers. Of course, modern wireless controllers are quite standard; they’re also RF-based. These early ones were infrared-based. That meant you had to keep the controller more or less trained on the receiver box or your game character loses his mind very quickly. I tried 2 separate brands (the Acclaim Remote Controller and a cheaper, no-name brand) and quickly returned them both.

  4. Kitsunexus Says:

    I’d kinda like to be spanked with that. ^-^

  5. Jim Ulrich Says:

    Didn’t this company learn from the Power Glove?

  6. Geoff V. Says:

    The Xband for SNES. Oh man the lag, it was like playing an action game under a strobe light. Just horrible. I took mine apart just a few months before the company canceled service.

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