Google Stadia is launching November 19. If you buy the Stadia Founder’s Edition for $129, you can start streaming games from Google’s cloud directly to your TV. In that Founder’s Edition, you get a Chromecast Ultra and the Stadia Controller. And during its Made By Google event today, the company shared more details about how it designed that gamepad.
Google has already revealed that Stadia Controller can connect directly to Wi-Fi to mitigate input lag. But it has now explained that it is also prioritizing comfort. To accomplish that, the company’s designers put a lot of effort into creating a controller that works with a variety of different players. That led the designers into unconventional environments looking for inspiration.
The Stadia Controller started as a bent knife handle
Google industrial designer Jason Pi found the genesis of the Stadia Controller in professional kitchens.
“I would go to these really nice kitchens, and they all have these simple knives,” said Pi. “None of them looked like grocery store knives with all the grips and details. [Those are] really uncomfortable if you rotate your hand around. The reason why most professional kitchens have knives [with simple handles] is you can use them in many ways.”
Pi believed that what works for knives should work for a gamepad. So for the very first iteration of the Stadia Controller, the design team bent a standard knife handle.
“From there, that one ancestor had hundreds and hundreds of kids until it became [what we have today],” said Pi. “It’s made for small and large hands. It’s super usable for a large segment of gamers that aren’t always appreciated.”
The final Stadia controller looks a lot like a PlayStation DualShock 4 or Xbox One gamepad. But it also still has the simple, rounded handles that you might expect on a professional kitchen knife. And if that makes it better at accommodating different grip styles, then Google is probably onto something. Maybe next we’ll get a handheld that is more like a cheese grater.