Gaming Design Know-Hows Chapter 3: Design through Innovation


In Chapter 1 and 2, we’ve learned insights into the gaming market, gamers’ habits, as well as how to design superior gaming products. This week we are going to share with you some of our earlier groundbreaking designs that, to our knowledge, marked the “first” in their categories and how we implemented the innovation.

Chapter 3: Design through Innovation

The First Right-Handed Mouse with 3 Side Buttons
IBM Versatile Scroll Mouse 1998

As we talked in the previous chapters, it is crucial that your design should always cater for your target audience. The majority of users are right-handed, and a lot of mouse design features and ergonomics are developed based on this fact to suit users’ needs. That is the reason why the 3 side thumb-buttons were created, to serve a better purpose by adding additional functionality.

With scrolling capabilities and programmable functions, which were both very pioneering at the time, the mouse could be customized and allowed users to navigate through the internet and various applications with ease. This was also one of the first computer mice with a ring finger rest area and a color-customizable side panel.


The First Mouse without Parting Lines
Sanwa Wizard Mouse 1999

When we were designing this mouse back in 1999, we thought that an integrated mouse key plate without parting lines could really make the product stand out from its peers for aesthetic reasons and better tactile feedback. We came up with the idea of the first mouse with one-piece key plate. It was also one of the earliest mice that had a transparent body and a backlit logo.


The First Mouse with Rubber on the Side
Kensington Pilot Mouse 2003

Sometimes innovation happens because you understand when to ask “WHY”. Back then when we were working with Kensington, they assigned us to explore the application of different materials, we thought: why not use the rubber for bicycle handlebars on the side of a mouse? That was the first time in the industry when rubber was used for computer mice design. The innovation enabled great hand stability and a comfortable grip.


The First Mouse with a Hinge
Elecom M-D13UR Folding Mouse 2006

After designing quite a lot of computer mice, we started wondering if there could be other possibilities for a mouse. We then asked ourselves: could a mouse be folded / twisted to change its shape and fit users’ different needs? The experiment resulted in the first generation of Elecom folding mouse. The innovation designed by CRE8 was never done before!


Icon7 Twister 1000 Wireless Laser Pocket Mouse 2008

Two years later, CRE8 took the concept to a next level and developed the Twister mouse for Icon7. While the new generation of hinge mouse was designed for usage in various scenarios, its core innovation was the rotating mechanism. Users can hold the mouse comfortably for daily tasks, and by just a simple twist, turn the mouse flat to become a presenter with laser pointer and PowerPoint controls. The flat, ultra slim feature also allowed for great portability. The invention won the mouse an iF Design Award in 2009.


The First Mouse with Fabric Cover
Icon7 Z500 Gaming Laser Mouse 2008

As gamers need to stay comfortable during extended gameplay, CRE8 came up with an original solution: to invent an interchangeable sweat-absorbent quick-drying fabric cover to give hard-core gamers an alternative for a dryer and softer touch. In addition, a unique up-and-down side button and anti-slippery surface enabled quick thumb activation and better control. The product won a Red Dot Award in 2009.

Interesting note: recently companies such as Microsoft and Google also embrace the use of fabric on their electronics designs.


The First Mouse with Up to 15 Programmable Buttons + the First Themed MMO Mouse
SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse Generation I, 2008

Developed specifically for the global community of World of Warcraft, this gaming mouse was a milestone in mouse design history. In order to meet the fans’ expectations, the mouse provided remarkable benefits to World of Warcraft MMO gamers, regardless of level or play style. Featuring incredible customizability to accommodate personal preferences and seamless integration between software and hardware, it was the first mouse in the world that had up to 15 programmable buttons. It was also the first mouse designed exclusively for World of Warcraft; as well as one of the earliest mice with LED backlighting effect, creating an amazing in-game experience.


The First Keyboard with Exposed Structure
Corsair Vengeance K60 Gaming Keyboard 2011

When CRE8 was cooperating with Corsair to develop their first input device product series, together we decided to adopt a design language that included “exposed structures” as part of the strategy. For the K60 keyboard, we used a fine brushed aluminum plate with mounted mechanical keys to emphasize this keyboard’s unique construction and to show off the premium performance switches, making it visually fresh and strong. The keyboard design was one of a kind at the time. Its contoured FPS-specific wrist rest also offered gamers increased comfort.

In this chapter, we introduced you some of the world’s first designs that were created by us. In collaboration with our clients, we added innovation to increase the user experience and product value. Proper aesthetics should be a positive side effect of good product design, not the main driver! Through the above examples we wanted to show that good design is about adding user-centric value.

In the following chapter, we will tell you more about the importance and power of a good design language strategy and how themed design can work if done properly.

Read Chapter 2