D-pads are more commonly called control pads. D-pads are typically found with gaming consoles. I’m sure you’ve probably got, or at least seen some kind of console, whether it’s Xbox or PlayStation. These consoles come with controllers. A D-pad is a cross or round switch on the left of the controller.
It’s super easy to use and makes controlling directional actions in your video games a breeze. The D-pad’s design has revolutionized gaming, overtaking joysticks and relieving hand cramps ever since.
If you look at your standard console controllers, it will be split into left and right. The left side, no matter the company or brand of controller, will always be the D-pad. The right side will have all the other necessary buttons.
The D-pad isn’t new, though; it was first developed for use in video arcades. The design wasn’t so much a pad than a joystick. Those types of games did have the four directional buttons as well, though. The connected shape appeared later.
The designs have come a long way since the 1970s, but the mechanics have remained the same. It’s easy to use and reigns as the best addition that’s ever been added to controllers.
The Meaning of D-pad
D-pad stands for a digital pad or directional pad. D-pads are generally flat, four-way directional in use, and thumb-operated. They come with all types of video game consoles or remote controllers and are even found on some old school TVs. Of course, this means that all D-pads are digital as well and will have all the required buttons on their surfaces.
Modern Day D-pad
D-pads have made it increasingly more comfortable to play video games on consoles like PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo. If you remember GameBoy, you’ll remember that it had a built-in D-pad on the console.
Nintendo had the classic ‘cross’ four-way directional pad for its devices, designed back in the 1980s for classic games like Donkey Kong. Your modern consoles like the Nintendo 64 are manufactured with both a D-pad and a compact analog stick. Both are thumb-operated.
These modern designs depend on the console, game, and device that’s being developed. Sometimes the D-pad isn’t necessary for the gameplay at all and will serve as additional buttons.
The list of modern consoles with D-pads is pretty extensive, but you can expect to find a D-pad on all of them. Nintendo DS and Nintendo Switch light consoles are amongst Xbox Ones, Wii, and many more.
How Do You Use a D-pad?
Any D-pad, no matter what console or controller you’re using, will be thumb-operated. Usually, the controller can be held in both hands, and the D-pad will be accessible with the left-hand thumb. The D-pad has four directional buttons represented by the up, down, left, and right buttons.
These buttons might have different functions for different games, but this will be known to you as the game player. You simply click the buttons with your thumb in play.
If you’re enjoying a fight-simulation style game, for example, your D-pad might introduce different punching combinations. On other games, the D-pad buttons might make your move forwards or back, jump, or even run.
Nintendo’s D-pad Patent
It’s no surprise after Nintendo realized the excellent use for its D-pads, it was quickly protected. This original cross design of the 1980s Nintendo D-pads was then patented. It has been dubbed as one of the most famous patents in the gaming industry. Probably because so many have tried to replicate something better, but with no considerable success.
After realizing how well this design works for regular consoles, Nintendo decided to upgrade the D-pad. They then kept it permanently as their directional control on gaming console controllers as the ‘+Control Pad’.
Nintendo, of course, was not the only gaming company to include a successful D-pad design on its gaming controllers. But for other big companies to avoid copyright infringement, the cross within a circle was introduced. Nintendo’s D-pad patent is rather impressive, simply because no one has been able to recreate something superior.
There now exists various forms of D-pads on all different controllers from all the big gaming companies. The primary mechanism, however, is still the same. This part of the patent is free to be used by anyone, hence many replicas exist.
What this means is that while Nintendo’s competitors are always looking for a way to better the mechanism without infringing on it, they can use the basic premise to try to create a better version.