Every year in January, a colossus stoops over Las Vegas, squats, and heaves its bowels, emptying a fecundity of new gadgets into the shithole of the Mojave Desert. It’s not much of an honor to be asked to declare any of these unnecessary new gizmos as being the single worst design of CES. In fact, it’s the equivalent of being asked to judge a farting contest in the amoebic dysentery ward. But after much consideration, I have to declare Mad Catz L.Y.N.X. 9 the winner of Co.Design’s first annual “Worst Design of CES” award.
Look, CES. Before you get upset for being overlooked, please know that it wasn’t easy to pick a winner. Considering an entire year has gone by since the last CES, I can confidently say that you guys have raised the stakes over the last 12 months when it comes to not giving a shit. There were just so many bad designs to choose from. And even at the end, it was a dead heat. Belty—the weird, auto-cinching, Bluetooth-controlled smart belt for fatties who can’t keep their pants up—was just this close to taking home the prize.
But I stand by my choice of the Mad Catz L.Y.N.X. 9 as Worst Design of CES. A $300 Bluetooth gamepad, the Mad Catz L.Y.N.X. 9 is a gaming controller that will stretch, dock and work with every smartphone and tablet on Earth, but only if those devices run Windows Phone or Android–because heck, who games on iOS? And if the price, the name, and the feature set weren’t stupid enough, hey, just look at this thing.
This sort of in-your-face, jagged aesthetic has been inexplicably popular with gaming d00dz for years. But even so, the L.Y.N.X. 9 takes it to the next level. In fact, the first time I saw the L.Y.N.X. 9, I mistook it for a Transformer. And not one of the good Transformers, like the ones we grew up with in the ’80’s. No, I mistook it for a Michael Bay Transformer. The kind of ridiculous, over-articulated CGI robot that’s just an AllSpark away from sitting up, saying something racist, and then pissing on John Turturro.
The resemblance to a Michael Bay Transformer is so striking, in fact, I feel like I have to make it clear to everyone that Michael Bay did not actually design the L.Y.N.X. 9. That clarification should be absurd, but it isn’t. The director of everyone’s favorite visually illiterate Hollywood blockbusters is not as much of a stranger to CES as you might think. In fact, just last year, Michael Bay had a meltdown at Samsung’s CES keynote after his teleprompter broke down, an event which was highly publicized for its shadenfreude. No wonder Samsung traded Bay in for Yves Béhar this year!
Like Michael Bay’s Transformers, what makes the L.Y.N.X. 9 so terrible is how over-engineered it is. Sure, it’s got a few cool features secreted in its part-metal, part-plastic design: for example, a collapsible design that Mad Catz claims will compress small enough to fit into a pocket. But keep in mind, the sort of customers this device is aimed for are people who presumably find using the virtual controls on their tablet or smartphone touch screens uncomfortable to use during long play sessions. Yet by design, the L.Y.N.X. 9 has been made to look like a collapsible multitool made out of razor blades. Exactly the sort of subliminal design connection that conjures up thoughts of the sort of highly ergonomic comfort gamers look for in an accessory, don’t you think?
So let’s recap. The Mad Catz L.Y.N.X. 9. It’s got a name that only a gaming d00fus could love. It looks like one of the gynecology tools for mutant vaginas in the David Cronenberg movie, Dead Ringers. It’s aimed at a demographic of gamers who are willing to spend as much on a physical controller for smartphone games as they did on the smartphone itself.
Mad Catz designers! If you can hear me from the bottom of your ketamine spiral, congratulations! The L.Y.N.X. 9 is the worst designed product at CES, by far! You’re welcome!