The Xbox Controller
The Gamecube Controller
The pre-GameCube Nintendo Controllers
As aforesaid, the PS controller has remained essentially unchanged since '94. It started out like this:
|Simple. Clean. Elegant?|
Once upon a time, primary movement control in a video game came through use of the D-pad. Shoot with □, jump with X. There were games in which the L and R buttons wouldn't be used at all, especially the older ones. (Things have come a long way.) If at all, they would only reorient the third-person camera sometimes. But this was enough for most of them.
Eventually, we got the analog sticks. This was a big step forward! Now you could walk, walk faster, OR run full tilt. Up until then, the D-pad's digital signals limited your choices to 'Go' or 'Not going'. There was no speed gradient. Still, the four L and R buttons remained secondary controls. Game designers would try their best to assign the most needed functions to the face controls.
|Dual Analog controller.|
A detail not to be overlooked: The addition of the analog sticks eventually lead to the inclusion of two more 'buttons': the L3 and R3 from pressing the analog sticks.
Since then there have also been some changes involving pressure-sensitivity of the face buttons, motion-sensing technology on the Sixaxis/Dualshock 3 but these aren't the focus of this blog post. The ergonomics. That's what I want to talk about. This controller hasn't changed much in that respect. Oh, it came close, real close to changing with the PS3. Check this out.
|This is what it would have looked like being held.|
Ok, here's the controller we know and love, right? It's iconic, I'll give you that. I just wish the gamer community had been a little more open to change and/or that Sony had a little more spine.
I got out my PS2 controller, the DualShock 2, and took some photos.
Here's the grip I find most secure and comfortable.
|Three fingers, yes?|
|Only one finger to access L1 and L2.|
|Examine this side view.|
|First the angle.|
|Resting the controller on two fingers leaves it tilting forward, see?|
Furthermore, with my fingers gripping the controller naturally, the other fingers do not line up with the L and R buttons like they should.
|See how the middle finger clearly doesn't line up with the L2 button?|
|Closing the fingers results in this odd resting place.|
Holding the controller like this is not extremely uncomfortable but it isn't as natural as it could be. See how the weight rests on two points, 1) My pinky and ring finger. 2) The L/R button rack. That's not right. For one, my pinky really doesn't have a strong grip on anything. They're almost fully scrunched. It bothers me that the rest of my fingers are active but the pinkies atrophy from lack of use. ATROPHY!
Final push, k?
|Supporting it at L1 and R1.|
I don't know how you held it, Mark, but this is how i hold mine and it's bugged me ever since I got a PlayStation (the original box-shaped one). I have taken hand size into account. This balance issue occurs in my friends' hands, too, though I would venture to say they haven't given it nearly as much neurotic attention as I have.
So yeah, I just wrote an entire post on the ergonomics of this gamepad! A similar treatment of the others will follow, in addition to a bonus one on the N64 controller, though I can't promise they will be as long as this one. Excepting the N64 controller. I have choice words to say about that one.