Friday, July 16, 2010

Too many buttons on a controller?

Bob over at Insert Token posted this question.  I typed up a rather long opinion.  What is yours?

From an outsider's perspective, it can be intimidating. The Xbox 360 controller has 11 buttons, plus two analog sticks and a d pad. But everything is intimidating if you lack knowledge. Think of your first day on any job and how scared you were of messing something up. The same thing applies to controllers.

Because of this, just like training a new employee, I start with easier games to initiate those unfamiliar with the controller. As they grow more comfortable with the controller, I increase the complexity of the games played and soon enough they can use the controller without difficulty.

I'm of the opinion that if a chimp can learn sign language, you can learn how to use a controller. You just have to get rid of the mindset "There's too many buttons, I'll never learn to use it." You are awesome, you can do anything, including kicking your kid's butt in their favorite game.

This fear is why motion controllers have become such a phenomenon. The problem with this is that, in my experience, the motion controls are nowhere near as responsive. Often, I'm left flailing and getting the same results as the carefully orchestrated movements in the instruction manual. I'll gladly take a classic controller over motion controls any day.

The other issue is that I play games to relax. I don't want to jump and windmill my arms like I'm having an epiliptic fit when I'm playing a game. That's not relaxing. I work hard for a living and work out every day on top of that. Somedays I don't want to get out of bed, let alone jump up around the living room as a form of entertainment. With a regular controller in hand, I can relax comfortably on my couch with a cool Mountain Dew at my side and just immerse myself in the game of the week.

If you're still thinking controllers have too many buttons, consider for a moment, PC gaming. Imagine having an entire keyboard laid out before you with a mouse that can open all sorts of menus and perform any number of functions. How many keys (buttons) are there? How many possible combinations could be used in a game? Suddenly the Xbox controller is a lot less intimidating.

Like I said before, "You are awesome, you can do anything." So pick up that controller, learn it, and take your kid/friend/loved one to school.
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