Controlling Steam

 

By – Trevor Shanahan

 

On October 19th, 2015 Chloi Rad, staff writer at IGN made a short video (1 minute 37 seconds) about playing Counterstrike with a Steam Controller instead of a mouse and keyboard.  The video, despite length, delivers a wealth of latent information.

 

Called an experiment, Rad seemingly trialed various weapons, tactics, and strategies in a battle between input devices.  Playing the game mode “Arms Race” permitted access to a wide array of weapons in a short amount of time and gave Rad the opp ortunity to trial weapon use with the Steam Controller. It’s hard to discern, but it seems she only played once match/round and ended-up taking third place (though she did get killstreaks and was within 1 kill of a golden knife).  This is an important text.  But why?

 

This video is a small representation of the larger potential for development and iteration of gaming input devices.  There seems to be a negativity or at least an aversion to gamepad and keyboard/mouse cross-pollination.  I think it is imperative to acknowledge the myriad of times certain technologies (including the video game industry as a whole) were perceived as inferior pursuits or had reached “dead ends”.

Controlling Steam image 2

Some sexy angled shots of the front and back of the controller.

 

As a student drowning in research, I can acknowledge Rad’s method and approach as a good start.  I would love to see pro CS:GO players trial Steam Controllers for an extended period of time.  One match/round is insufficient time to adapt, let alone master, a new means of input (some might call revolutionary).

Let me throw in some controller specs for funsies:

  • Dual trackpads
  • HD haptics
  • Analog stick
  • Dual-stage triggers, each with 10° of travel, a magnetic flux sensor, and a tactile switch
  • Gyroscope and accelerometer sensors enabling tilt-to-steer racing wheel functionality and other motion-controlled input
  • Configurable controls
  • Local multiplayer capability, as supported by games
  • Wired or wireless (dual mode)
  • USB 2.0 via Micro USB port (cable not included)
  • Estimated 5 meters of wireless communications range. Actual results may vary.
  • Provides up to 80 hours of standard game play using the included AA batteries during preliminary testing. Battery life will vary based on usage and other factors, such as type of batteries used. Actual results may vary.

 

Rad’s experiment gives merit to an overall theory I have had for Valve’s foray into platform hardware and accessories – I think this is a big experiment.  Industry analysts, press, and the video game community at large seem to be uncertain of Valve’s strategy with the rumor turned announcement turned release of their hardware and peripherals.  The Steam platform, is itself, a giant experiment to see if a singular platform could cater to the needs of every aspect of the video game industry and community.  isn’t it still in Beta?

 

It is not merely my hope, but my belief that only through trial and time can we understand the potential of these new technological iterations.  This will foster the growth necessary to keep the industry moving, expanding, and evolving to create greater offerings to a greater number of people.  It sounds almost Utopian, but it is also tried and true.

 

To the future!

 

 

ccccccMy name is Trevor Shanahan and I am pursuing a graduate degree in video games/media studies. I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, culture, etc.). I have come to realize that the more I learn (and learning is so important) the more I do not know. Learn as much as you can about what you love and try to give back to it.