Maintaining “Control”…


The Atari 2600 joystick. The NES Advantage. The Genesis 6-button controller. PlayStation Dual Analog control. Each of the aforementioned input devices revolutionized control in gaming as we knew it. Microsoft’s “Project Natal” is no different. So, with recent advancements in technology, could we be on the precipice of the physical control scheme’s extinction?

To answer this query, it must first be discerned if the device itself is as great a barrier as we are led to believe. Joypad layouts have become increasingly more complicated over the years- from one button to two, two to three, three to six and so on. Digital pads(or “D-pad” as they are referred) were found to be appropriate input for two-dimensional space. This all changed, however, as gaming hardware transitioned into the third dimension. No longer could eight on/off directional “buttons” serve as the navigation tool in 3D space. Enter the analog stick- not only could directional movement be changed on-the-fly, it could also be changed incrementally. The more the stick was pushed, the faster an on-screen avatar could walk or run. Motion control is just as large a leap, if not more so. Some say it is the next logical step in the evolution of gaming- but is it more than a novelty?

Everyone reading this has that certain relative that falls into one of two categories: the “anti-gamer” or the “closet casual gamer”. How many times have you seen this person move the whole controller in the direction they wish to move? They plainly do not understand the input format. This is in large part due to the fact that tutorials for most games are ambiguous at best to those who alienate themselves from video gaming on a regular basis. For those of us who game constantly, a murky lesson on how to play said game is fine- we adapt easily. The method of input is no more a barrier than any other factor- in fact, learning how to play each game differently may be the highest bar set for consoles today. Developers should be concerned with creative and intuitive approaches of teaching and building on what has been learned and not so much transitioning to biological input devices. Tutorial crafting should be the next sizable leap in the near future. If more attention can be paid in that department, we may still maintain “control” and truly offer something for everyone.

3 comments on “Maintaining “Control”…

  1. maybe I’m just lazy… but I would much rather sit back in my recliner and push the 17 buttons on my sony daulshock 3 sixaxis controller than playing motion controlled games… My opinion is motion control is just a novelty…fun every now and then…

    I’m also wondering where the pong controller is in the picture?
    now that was a real controller!!!

  2. You’re correct to a point- like AcidBee and I discussed on Episode 6, button presses are simply more accurate than motion recognition ATM. I do think that most core gamers feel the same as you do- we’ve been brought up a certain way and are fairly resistant to change for the most part. I just hope that motion control is INTEGRATED into gaming and not substituted in for a controller.

  3. Just a quickie: Motion control seems to be easier to mess with than a stardard controller for the type of gamers you mentioned. I know from experience that many people that don’t game regularly, if ever, want their first or few gaming experiences to be as easy as possible so they can just enjoy that time spent with friends and family. With that said, I’ve seen plenty of people just do the dumbest things and at times even intentionally do things wrong because they find it more enjoyable. You’d be surprised how many people are like that, and hell, look in real life how people act at bowling alleys, target practice, etc. Alcohol induced or not, people like to quickly and at times stupidly enjoy themselves which goes against the whole point of what they originally set out to do.

    So I think that for real gamers we enjoy something different like motion controlled stuff but we prefer to cling to our roots. Otherwise if you fit into the category of those described above, you’re more likely to try and hop a bowling ball into another lane on Wii sports while everyone laughs than try to sit there for an hour attempting to get the ball to travel down the banister and hit the red button to get all of the pins at once. Good or bad (depending upon who you are – industry or true gamer), I’ve experienced more situations with the aforementioned types rather than those that could be considered “the real deal”.

    Whether it fits the post or not, that’s just my 1.6875 cents…

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