The Advantages of Joysticks

By Noel Shankel

Updated September 22, 2017

Joysticks have their advantages when playing computer games.
i Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

When it comes to video games, using a joystick has certain benefits and advantages over using a control pad. The joystick can be used to play both computer games and games intended for home consoles. Understanding the differences between a joystick and a control pad will help you determine which is better for you.

That Classic Feel

One main advantage of using a joystick over a control pad -- like those used for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- is comfort, especially when playing classic arcade games that featured joysticks. One such example is "Pac-Man," which used a joystick for both the stand-up and sit-down version. If you grew up playing "Pac-Man," you might be more accustomed to using a joystick. Other classic joystick games include "Dig Dug" and "Donkey Kong," both of which are available for next-generation consoles.

Time To Fight

Joysticks range in size, with some having only two buttons and others -- especially those designed for fighting games -- featuring numerous buttons. These bigger joysticks can be placed on a flat surface, eliminating the need for you to hold them. Whereas a control pad limits you to using mainly your thumbs, a larger joystick -- or joypad -- allows you to use multiple fingers at one time. This is ideal for fighting games, as they require you to press numerous buttons at one time to create combination moves.

The Flight Simulator

Certain games encourage certain types of controllers, such as flight simulators. These games, either for the PC or a console, allow you to plug in an aircraft style controller -- like those found on the classic arcade game "After Burner" -- to control your plane. You can grip the controller with one hand and press the buttons placed on the base of the controller with your other hand. These buttons control the weapons you can fire, such as missiles and machine guns. Using a flight simulator controller makes it feel more like you're inside the cockpit of an aircraft, instead of simply playing a game.


According to, the joystick is simply more intuitive when playing a video game, since a stick -- and not a directional pad -- is controlling your character's movement. If you must move left or right, you simply push the stick left or right. A directional pad requires you to push down on it to move a character left or right. Control pads also have analog sticks built into them, which mimic joystick controls. These analog sticks are moved around with your thumb as compared to joysticks, which let you grip them entirely with your hand for more control.