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How Ye Olde Joysticks of Yore Begat Gamepads of Today

How Ye Olde Joysticks of Yore Begat Gamepads of Today (photo)

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If you’re a philosophical, new-fangled game enthusiast stepping in front of a Kinect, you may think to yourself, “How did we get here?” It’s a fair question, seeing as how the old arcade thrills of the early ’80s came through the relatively simple combination of a an analog joystick and a single button. Some might that that control methods have gone from simple to complex and that the re-introduction of simple has come via the Nintendo Wii and the responses of the PlayStation Move and Kinect for Xbox 360.

Now, a handy illustrated chart shows the way that input devices for the video game medium have changed over the last 38 years. Aside from being a warm trip down nostalgia lane, it’s also instructive as to how various trends have changed, disappeared or re-appeared as video games have evolved. Take light guns, for example. You’ve got the Magnavox Odyssey rifle right up there at the top as one of the earliest ways to play a game. Then light guns mostly disappear for about a decade until the NES Zapper makes “Duck Hunt” a national pastime. From there, various companies make gun-style peripherals for their various games, but none are mainstays once the joysticks and control pads become the standard.

You can also see the entire lifeline of specialized music instrument peripherals, which has reached an apparent end now that Activision’s shuttered Guitar Hero and Harmonix is re-focusing after being sold by MTV. Like the console history video I posted a few months back, the chart’s also a parade of also-rans and never-were manufacturers whose names have been lost to history. Take a gander and wistfully think back to the controllers you’ve owned and if you’re so inclined, pick up the poster at Pop Chart Lab.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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