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Interview with Bill Venne, Mechanical Engineering Manager: Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play GamePad

ActiveWin.com: When did the Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad hit the drawing board? How long was it in development?

Venne: In August of 98, we kicked off Blaze ID (industrial design) concepts. The Plug & Play Gamepad was ready for production July 99. To coordinate the scheduling with our Gamepad Pro, the decision was made to release the Plug & Play March 00.

ActiveWin.com: What was your main goal in designing the Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad?

Venne: We wanted to develop a low cost, quality game pad that appealed to the novice gamer genre.

ActiveWin.com: What inspired the development team to go with a transparent shell?

Venne: Our Industrial Design group drove this. The transparency was a strong identifier in the gaming market, I believe sending the message that we were doing new innovative designs and not just putting out the same old product style.

ActiveWin.com: When designing the SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad, did you work in conjunction with the development teams of other Microsoft games for better overall support? If so, which one stands out in your mind the most?

Venne: We didn’t have the opportunity for collaboration of development teams this time.

ActiveWin.com: What do you think the SideWinder Plug & Play GamePad has over its competitors?

Venne: It has a cool look, quality features and meets low cost target goals.

ActiveWin.com: What were your limitations for adding features to this product keeping the projected low-cost in mind?

Venne: We couldn’t include elastomeric handle grips, daisy-chaining connectors, or LED’s.

ActiveWin.com: What are your favorite games to play with the SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad?

Venne: Monster Truck madness.

ActiveWin.com: What was the initial impact you received about this product when it started testing? Positive/Negative? Were any changes made from the beta form to its current state?

Venne: The responses we received were mostly positive, with a few negative comments about color and the pad’s ribs showing.

ActiveWin.com: What was your favorite moment during the development of the Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad?

Venne: The ID phase and shipping of the pad, of course.


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