Natural Selection by Gamers? The Influence of the 32-bit Era on subsequent Gamepad Design


Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2016
41 Pages, Grade: C

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Table of Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Method

Results
What are the similarities in current generation gamepad interface design?
Why have gamepad interface design become more similar over the years?
How had the events in the 32-bit era influenced this interface design?
The first point of no return: Analog thumbstick
The second point of no return: Two thumbstick layout
The third point of no return: Four face buttons & four shoulder buttons

Discussion

References

Appendix - Interview Details

Abstract

This study examined the events unfolded during the fifth generation of video game consoles, also known as 32-bit era, and how they influenced the similarities among interface design of modern gamepads. The study also investigated the reasons behind the phenomenon of their interface design being mostly identical. Interviews were conducted to prove the hypothesis, that similarities among gamepad interface benefited the majority of gamer audience, as it allows player to preserve skills relating to physical inputs and eye-hand coordination, reducing the learning curve of new titles or new systems, thus making new game titles more enjoyable

Keywords: Gamepad, Industrial Design, User Interface, Video Game History

Introduction

Natural Selection by Gamers: The Influence of 32-bit Era on the Similarities of Current Generation Gamepad Interface Design Between October 1993 and the launch of Nintendo 64 in June 1996, the gaming industry has fully entered the fifth generation era, also known as the 32-bit era, or the 3D era. Up until this point, gamepads looked and functioned quite differently from each other. Even though they were all input devices held with two hands, their interface design were mostly unique to its own style and brand. Some had more face buttons, some had more shoulder buttons, all while some had thumbsticks which can input 360 degree motion unlike any other. However, the years after it, gamepad interface design started to have a converging trend, leading ultimately to the modern gamepad interface design to be almost identical. To answer the research question, “How had the 32-bit era influenced the similarities among interface design of current generation gamepads?” I will use subquestions to build up to the conclusion and some clarification to narrow down the discussion scope.

The subquestion will be elaborated and answered in the “result” chapter of this research paper, and they are:

- What are the similarities in current generation gamepad interface design?
- Why have gamepad interface design become more similar over the years?
- How had the events in the 32-bit era influenced this interface design?

However, before I jump into the subquestions, I feel the need to clarify the relationships and differences between game controllers and gamepads. Game controllers come in many shapes and forms. They can be motion sensors, joysticks, driving wheels, or even the light gun for Duck Hunt1 on the NES. But gamepads are a specific type of game controllers, that you hold in two hands and they are controlled with the thumbs2. Such as the SNES Controller, Xbox 360 Controller, and the DualShock series. Even though the term “controller” are part of their names, they differentiate themselves from the rest by being gamepads specifically. In this paper, we are only discussing the gamepads and its interface design.

Interface design, as in hardware user interface design3 in the realm of human-computer interaction4, we are not only talking about look and feel or the geometrical shape of the peripheral device, but we are mainly comparing the user interface’s affordance, signifiers, constraints, and mapping5 to determine what is relatively similar and what is relatively different.

My hypothesis is that the criticism of Nintendo 64 Controller and of the PlayStation Dual Analog Controller influenced what the most optimal gamepad interface design should be, when it comes to interacting with 3D video games.

Furthermore, I predicted that most gamers are only willing adapt and master one type of gamepad interface. Therefore it did not matter which layout would become the “standard”, as long as the mainstream gamepads had a converging trend of interface design, it will benefit the majority of gamers, thus making it necessary to have one specific style of interface to dominate the modern market and make the other styles to be almost extinct or to be considered “retro”. I have conducted interviews, and gathered knowledge from articles and publications to prove or falsify my hypothesis, I have also sent out interview requests to professional gamepad designers in the industry to aid me in this research.

Method

The purpose of this research is to prove the two assumptions described above: 1) The dominance of a certain gamepad interface design is caused by majority of gamers benefiting from adapting or mastering only one style, thus making other interface designs less desirable and rare to find; 2) the “standard” interface design of modern gamepads was heavily influenced by the success of Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 1 console and their games.

To testify the assumption “similarities in gamepad interface benefits majority of gamers”, I have asked 21 participants to be interviewed in order to answer a few question in detail. They were recruited locally, with 8 employees of an indie game company - Firebrush Studios; and 13 students from HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. The participants where 81% male and 19% female, ranging between 20 to 37 years old, with 75% of them aged between 20 and 25 years. For the specificness of this study, it’s also worth mentioning that they work or study in the gaming industry and live in the Netherlands. But most importantly, they are all gamers who have played video games with gamepads and other game controllers. The guiding questions asked were as below:

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The interview evolves around the central question “How do you like the fact that gamepad UIs are very similar to each other?” and other discussions such as willingness to sacrifice the comfort of controller to play desirable game titles. Some questions were more direct and helpful for this study, but the conversation as a whole was more interesting due to the topics making participants to be more honest and at ease with the answers.

A printed image (Figure 1) was presented to help them to recall most of the gamepads since 3D gaming was introduced, which also happened to be the default bundled controllers with the most popular consoles of each generation. The gamepads and controllers shown in this image are: TurboGrafx-16 controller, Sega Genesis controller, Neo Geo CD controller, Super NES controller, Atari Jaguar controller, Sega Saturn controller and its upgraded 3D Control Pad, PlayStation 1 controller and its upgraded DualShock 1, Nintendo 64 controller, Dreamcast controller, GameCube controller, Xbox controller, DualShock 2, Wii Remote and nun- chuk, Wii Classic Controller Pro, Xbox 360 controller, DualShock 3, Wii U GamePad, Ouya controller, Xbox One controller, DualShock 4, Wii U Pro Controller, PS Vita, New Nintendo 3DS, Nvidia Shield controller, Google Android TV controller, Amazon Fire TV controller, and SteelSeries Nimbus for Apple TV.

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FIGURE 1: REFERENCE IMAGE USED FOR INTERVIEW

To verify the second assumption “N64 and PS1 heavily influenced the standard of gamepad interface design” I have sent out request of interviews to companies who have recently designed or produced gamepads, including Razer, SteelSeries, Nvidia, Ouya, Asus (for Google Android Controller), Amazon (Fire TV), and Valve’s Robin Walker, who presented the Steam Controller. However due to the short project time span, no interviews has been conducted with professionals of gamepad manufactures. Therefore I mainly used articles and literatures to support my assumption. These sources include published articles on the internet about video game history, human-compute-interface design, and also wikipedia entries. But most importantly, I used the referenced pages of which those entries were written upon.

I aimed to investigate whether and, if so, how Nintendo N64’s introduction of “analog stick” has set a definition of its necessity in relation to 3D video games, and how Sony PlayStation’s Dual Analog controller’s “two-analog-stick layout” has set the definition even further. Moreover, for a company to release a new gamepad with “familiar” interface design to the market is more profitable and less risky compared to unique design and niche feature compatibilities, which has shaped the phenomenon “current generation gamepads are very similar to each other”.

Results

This section formulates my findings and understanding based on the resources supported the research of the topic. It will be broken down into three subquestions, each answer will progressively build up to the answer of the original research question “How had the 32-bit era influenced the similarities among the interface design of current generation gamepads?”

What are the similarities in current generation gamepad interface design?

Most modern gamepads consist of the combination of one d-pad, two analog sticks, four shoulder buttons (two of which are analog), four face-buttons (all digital), and few system buttons (i.e. start/select or equivalent). These are the similarities in our scope of discussion. And the for the remainder of the paper I will refer to them as “the similarities”, or “the standard”. This is true for the Xbox 360 Controller, Xbox One Controller, DualShock 4, Wii U GamePad, Nvidia Shield Controller, Logitech

Wireless Gamepad, and each of them were designed for different gaming platforms. Beyond that, the only unmatching point in mapping is the location thumb sticks being either higher or lower than the directional pad and face buttons, while the rest of the layout are mostly identical.

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FIGURE 2: GAMEPADS OF THE EIGHTH GENERATION ERA

When we talk about the differences in modern gamepad interface, they are: the unique literal elements in signifiers, i.e. A-B-X-Y instead of B-A-Y-X, or Triangle- Circle-Cross-Square, as well as LB and RB instead of L1 and R1; the mapping of certain button, for example the location of thumbsticks, and the fact it’s symmetrical in some designs while asymmetrical among other designs. There are also some differences caused by niche features exclusive to certain product’s designs. For example the trackpad on DualShock 4, the back pedal buttons on the Xbox One Elite Controller, and the pressure sensitivity support of the face buttons on DualShock 3. However these features are either not treated as important as the other buttons6, not essential7, or not discontinued by successors8.

Why have gamepad interface design become more similar over the years?

During the fifth generation era, most gamepads still had unique affordance and buttons mapping. For example the N64 Controller had thumbsticks and trigger button no one else had. The PlayStation 1 controller stood out by its four shoulder buttons, having its own way to control your character and camera in 3D games. Last but not least we have the Sega Saturn controller with six face buttons, and its upgraded version - 3D Control Pad, which introduced the analog triggers for the first time, that modern manufactures don’t even dare to exclude in their designs.

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FIGURE 3: GAMEPADS OF THE FIFTH GENERATION ERA

Those gamepads all had their advantages and disadvantages, and players had to learn and accept their difference to play platform exclusive games. Yet during the generation after, many of these unique features seized to popularize further, while more and more similarities started to emerge. When comparing the sixth- generation gamepads with each other, namely the Dreamcast Controller, DualShock 2, GameCube Controller and the Xbox Controller, the latter one is the only gamepad consisting six face buttons instead of four. This design element was then omitted by its successor, the Xbox 360 Controller. Another example, out of these four gamepads the Dreamcast Controller was the only device featuring a single thumbstick instead of two thumbsticks layout. This interface design also did not popularize further, and was only brought back to the industry along with handheld consoles such as the Sony PSP and Nintendo 3DS, yet each product was succeeded by new devices featuring two stick layout later on.

Now looking at the current generation gamepads, the interface design resemblance are so strong, casual gamers can’t even tell the differences. Even Android TV gamepads9 and iOS gamepads10 have intensive design similarities to that of the Xbox One Controller and DualShock 4, when they could have looked and functioned like anything imaginable, as mobile platform games weren’t even meant to be play with generic gamepads. So why did gamepad interface design become more similar over the years?

After drafting a questionnaire, I have conducted numerous interviews with game developers, gamers, or just people who used to play video games with gamepads. With the detail of the interview accessible in the appendix of this paper, the data gathered have proven my hypothesis stated in the introduction chapter to be true, which is the converging trend of gamepad interface design benefited the majority of the gamers. Thus granting the confidence to console and gamepad manufactures to maintain the “standard” elements in their design instead of innovation. (See figure 4)

I interviewed a balanced mix of 21 participants who are casual and hardcore gamers, and they all had extended experience with playing video games using gamepads. The majority of these participants started playing video games before the age of 10, with the rest started before age of 5. Their favorite game range from very challenging games like God of War (PS2) and Bloodborne (PS4) to casual or child friendly games like Donkey Kong Country (SNES) and Spyro the Dragon (PS1).

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Figure 4: Opinions on similarities

When facing the question “How do you like the fact that gamepad UIs are very similar to each other?” 14 out of 21 participants have a positive opinion about the gamepad interfaces being similar, which 6 of them even “strongly” liked this phenomenon, with the comments such as: “They are all using the most optimal user interface, I can’t think of a better design”, “Since hands are similar, there is no great market for other designs”, “Switching between platforms is easier, used to the movements and controls already”, “You already need to get used to new game mechanics, it would be too much to also learn new control interface. As long as its a gamepad, same interface is good”, “It’s nice they are similar, when you are playing games, cross platform becomes friendly for gamers.” and alike. The 4 voices of the opposing side also commented on why they don’t like this phenomenon: “It’s disappointing to not see the brand style anymore”, “I like the two stick layout, but I like them to implement in new ways.”, “Even though it fits 3D navigation, a lot of console developers like to stick with what people knew, afraid to lose hardcore audience. Personally I support innovation.”

This result proves that, in our times, the majority of gamers (about two-thirds) prefer the presence of one d-pad, two analog sticks, four shoulder buttons, four facebuttons, and a few system buttons on their gamepad. However, the other result indicates that the majority of gamers are willing to sacrifice the comfort of gamepad to experience a new game titles. (See Figure 5.) The following data shows 62 percent of the participants willing to play new and desirable games regardless of the comfortability or familiarity of a gamepad, and only 33% insist to play those games with a preferred controller or mouse and keyboard.

Figure 5: Willingness to sacrifice comfort of gamepad to experience new title

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How had the events in the 32-bit era influenced this interface design?

The first point of no return: Analog thumbstick

The 32-bit era, officially known as the fifth-generation era, has introduced the world with 3D gaming as we now know it. Players could controls polygonal objects in a three-dimensional environment, may it be first person shooter, racing games, action-adventure games, role-playing games or flight simulation games. We could now see more than just sprites, more than flat background images, and move in more than two axis, all in real time.

However, for many years 3D games on console were commonly played by with gamepads consisting only digital buttons, namely the Atari Jaguar Controller, Sega Saturn Controller, and the PlayStation 1 Controller. With digital button it meant that the player would have to push and release the button at very precise moments to achieve relative precision in navigation, i.e. putting the crosshair onto your enemy’s body, steering a race car, or moving your character at a slower speed. Quite like a computer keyboard, there isn’t any analog input, everything is either 100% or 0%.

It wasn’t until the release of Nintendo 64 in 1996 and its first game - Super Mario 64, gamers experienced how much more fun it is to be able to move your character towards more than just 8 directions, and you can adjust your character’s movement speed with the same finger11. Player had access to this amount of sensitivity and precision control for the first time in 3D games. This was the power of analog thumbstick. Later on with the release of GoldenEye 007, people realized that first person shooter games finally made sense to be played with gamepads, thanks to its precision affordance of aiming a crosshair with the highly sensitive analog thumbstick. A quote from Dome-Candy Games’ video review on GoldenEye12 states “For the first time, gamepads interaction felt physical rather than mathematical.” I named it the first point of no return, because it is the most significant and influential innovation that has been adapted by console makers generation after generation until today. This is true, because immediately after the reveal of Nintendo 64’s console and its gamepad, Sega and Sony launched their upgraded products, 3D Control Pad13 and Dual Analog Controller14 respectively, each consisting one or more analog thumbsticks. Furthermore, all mainstream console manufactures also include this design feature in the coming years: Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Xbox, not to mention Nintendo’s own successor - the GameCube. The gaming industry was so confident that analog input was an essential and highly desirable feature for interacting with 3D games.

Having elaborated on the importance of Nintendo 64’s contribution in introducing the thumbstick, I cannot get away with calling it “analog” without clarifying one thing - the thumbstick is technically a digital input mechanism, mimicking analog input effectively by supporting many levels of sensitivity15. Yet due to its affordance, signifier, and feedback resembles identically to that of an analog thumbstick, therefore in terms of user interface design it is discussed as an analog thumbstick.

The second point of no return: Two thumbstick layout

The 32-bit era gave birth to one of the most iconic interface feature in gamepad history. It defined a mental model among gamers, which made it natural for the players to move the protagonist with left thumb, and move the camera with right thumb, unless the player is left handed. The DualShock 4 has it, the Xbox One Controller has it, the Wii U GamePad has it, even the Android TV gamepads have it. It is the user interface element of - not more, not less, but two thumbsticks on a gamepad.

This design feature was so important, the most popular handheld console - Nintendo 3DS was succeeded by an upgraded version - The New Nintendo 3DS, just to have the second thumbstick along with few other features included16. Even before the release of this console upgrade, Nintendo’s own accessory “Circle Pad Pro”, which provided the feature of a second thumbstick to the original Nintendo 3DS, had a combined customer review of 709 submissions17. Considering the percentage of buyer posting reviews on Amazon is between 2-5%18, we could estimate the possible sales figure of it on amazon.com alone is between 14000 - 35000 units, making it a very desirable accessory to a modern handheld console.

It wasn’t a one person or a single event that could take all the credit for the domination of this two-thumb-stick design. It is the synergy of software and hardware development together that solidified the mental model for the majority to believe it is natural to use one thumbstick per hand to play 3D video games. When looking at the infographic of the “Family Tree For Video Game Controllers”19, we see the earliest commercial product predating any gamepads with this feature is the Dual Analog Controller by Sony Computer Entertainment. Its interface design is a direct upgrade of from the original PlayStation Controller, with the new feature of analog sticks. The Japanese version of this gamepad also included the vibration function, but the usage of vibration function is more of a game design practice than it is a hardware interface design, so we won’t discuss it here.

The introduction of the two-thumbstick can be interpreted as Sony’s competitive response to Nintendo 64’s analog stick feature - “Why not have two of them?” But this design feature is also heavily influenced by one of Sony’s own product released one year prior - the Playstation Analog Joystick20. This game controller was designed for flight simulation games on the PlayStation 1. Yet, adapting its twin analog design into thumbstick format suddenly gave birth to one of the most iconic feature in gamepad history, which would later survive the evolution process for over 20 years, becoming one of the points of no return. Even though the hardwares gave 3D gaming with the possibility and the affordance of a second analog thumbstick, it was the softwares and game themselves that signified the how they should be used. It wasn’t until Ape Escape (1999), which was released 2 years after the Dual Analog Controller, required the game to be played with this controller or its equivalent. Of course many PS1 games before that supported the functions of the thumbsticks, but mostly just one of them, giving no additional features whatsoever. And it’s only 2 years later a title finally took the risk of pushing designs forwards, making the two-thumbstick a requirement to play a 3D title.

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FIGURE 6: APE ESCAPE (1999) AND ITS CONTROL SCHEME

Having credited its impact on emphasizing the two-thumbstick usage, Ape Escape didn’t actually apply a control scheme similar to any of current generation’s mainstream games, but it popularized the twin stick control by being a commercially successful and critically acclaimed title during that time21 22 some games in my opinion, also had to take credits in utilizing the second thumbstick to enhance the gameplay experience, inspiring the generations afterwards to follow. For example Eidos Interactive’s Tomb Raider 3 (1998) allowed the right stick to control the camera, which eliminated the need to hold down a “look” button of the original scheme; and EA’s Medal of Honor (1999) enabled the layout of almost a modern-day console First Person Shooter game, where the character can do strafe-movement with left stick, and move the camera uninterruptedly with the right stick.

The third point of no return: Four face buttons & four shoulder buttons

It was said, that the SNES Controller was the first gamepad to introduce the symmetrical 4 face button layout23, yet the domination of its modern usage wasn’t entirely due to the innovation. Instead, it’s due to the success in surviving the trial of natural selection in the next few decades.

Between 1993 and 2001, many gamepads with 6 face button was released by first party console manufactures, i.e. the Sega Genesis Controller, the Sega Saturn Controller, Atari Jaguar CD Controller, the Nintendo 64 Controller, and the original Xbox Controller. One could use hindsight to argue, that those gamepads and its consoles weren’t going to be popular anyways, and that’s why the 6 face button design wouldn’t survive. However at that time, those console manufactures had the courage and desire to compete with rival companies, knowing their gamepad interface was alternative. Especially in the case of Nintendo, they tried to out-do themselves by replacing the old interface design with the new one of Nintendo 64. It means even Nintendo believed that there’s space to improve upon the 4 face button design of SNES.

But years after years, many events had made gamers and developers to realize that 6 button face button is too redundant. Some had foreseen this earlier than other, and some would act on it later than they like to admit. Since Atari and Sega had quit being console manufactures shortly after, I will only discuss how Nintendo and Microsoft went back to the 4 face button design, making the mainstream gaming industry completely abandon alternative designs.

GameCube Controller - the successor of Nintendo 64 Controller, utilized an interface design with many similarities to that of a current generation gamepad. It had only one shoulder button less than the “standard” interface, and having an alternative mapping for the 4 face buttons, with X and Y buttons being adjacent to the A button. It is the first gamepad Nintendo designed to strongly resemble a modern gamepad, followed by Wii Classic Controller Pro, and Wii U GamePad. So why did Nintendo join the converging trend?

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FIGURE 7: NINTENDO 64 CONTROLLER AND GAMECUBE CONTROLLER

When comparing the name of the buttons on gamepads of GameCube and N64, immediately we notice “A”, “B”, “L”, “R”, and “Z”, but in fact “C” is also carried over. What used to be 4 yellow buttons marked with directional triangles, has been replaced by a 360-direction thumbstick, with the ability to function as a button itself when pressed. This justified the interaction of camera control being shifted from face button to right thumbstick, but it would have also sacrificed the affordance of six face buttons. The GameCube Controller then re-introduced the X and Y buttons its predecessor had been missing, and giving up on the 6 button layout all together, because most N64 developers decided to use the C buttons for camera controls instead of only as action buttons 24 25 26 27 28 Let’s now look at the other case - the Xbox Controller, at first with 6 face buttons (A,B,X,Y, Black and White), was later succeeded by the Xbox 360 Controller. Again, when comparing the the designs of user interface, the only differences lies between the “Black and White” buttons and “LB, RB”, it was obvious the latter has replaced the former with what was considered as better mapping, since the amount of buttons index finger and thumb can access now are more even than before.

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FIGURE 8: XBOX CONTROLLER AND XBOX 360 CONTROLLER

Other than the affordance of pressure sensitivity and the lefts stick location, Xbox 360 Controller’s affordance and mapping are almost identical to that of DualShock 1 and 2. Then why wouldn’t Microsoft admit that DualShock had the better interface design, and they could have adapted in the first place? It’s highly suggested that Microsoft and Sony, as two competing companies, wanted to have more recognizable unique features on their own designs to differentiate themselves among the market. Quoting Owen Good on the original Xbox Controller29: “Microsoft felt that putting true shoulder buttons on this—which it did, obviously, for the Xbox 360 controller—gave too much credit to Sony's design or conceded its superiority.”

This brings the discussion to the shoulder buttons, which also was introduced by the SNES controller. But when discussing shoulder buttons of current generation gamepads, what really matters is the number of “four” and the affordance of pressures sensitivity, ergo, analog triggers.

Sega 3D Control Pad first introduced the analog triggers30 to support its best selling racing games such as Sega Rally Championship and Daytona USA on the Sega Saturn31. This design was then carried over onto the Sega Dreamcast Controller, which was adapted into Xbox Controller32 for First-Person-Shooters, hence the name “Trigger”.

Just like how Xbox didn't want to use four by four33 layout at first, purporting to be different from Sony’s DualShock 2. The DualShock 2 also wanted to stand out from the rest by not only having pressure sensitivity on its shoulder buttons, but also its four face buttons. It benefited some driving games34 in a way that it could utilize older generation controls schemes (Cross Button to accelerate, Square Button to Reverse). But the comfort it brings is no where as close as the natural mapping of Sega 3D Control Pad and Xbox controller, which mirrors acceleration pedals and brake pedals on to the right and left triggers respectively.

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FIGURE 9: DUALSHOCK 3 AND DUALSHOCK 4

This interface feature was carried over one more generation to the DualShock 3, but currently the DualShock 4 no longer has pressure sensitivity on its face buttons, and the analog triggers behave more similar to that of the Xbox and Sega’s gamepads. As Chris Kohler wrote in his article35: “In an apparent attempt to one-up Sega, Sony added analog sensitivity to every face and shoulder button on the PS2's

Dual Shock 2 controller. The following five years were spent attempting, unsuccessfully, to find a game that actually needed eight buttons with analog sensitivity. This was especially true since it was very difficult to get a sense of how hard you were pushing the button, unlike the triggers which had a wide, easily perceived range of motion.”

Yet finally, the third point of no return has emerged out of many years of stubborn brand battle, and it’s controversial whether the cease of innovation is beneficial or adverse. With the release many Android TV game controllers, no difference has been made, knowing that Android games could potentially enabled all kinds of interface design as they were adapted from touchscreen interaction anyways 36 37 38

Discussion

The result of evolution isn’t the chronology of gamepads morphing into their next phase, but it is the gamers that picks out undesirable designs to throw them away, leaving only a few favored ones to survive. (see Figure 10.) This process makes the remaining species of interface designs to become remarkably similar to each other, and to be hindered to innovate further.

A few events had heavily influenced this phenomenon among the industry itself was noticeably the release of Nintendo 64 console, its gamepad, and the chain of events triggered by it, such as the release of Sega 3D Control Pad and the Sony Dual Analog Controller, which all happened during the fifth generation era.

Retrospectively, when you look back at the history of game controllers from today’s point of view, the N64 controller was an awkward invention. I.e you couldn’t access all the buttons without changing your hand grip due to its three-legged shape. But when looking forward, especially from the point of view of the gaming industry in 1996, the N64 and its controller has become a huge mile stone for 3D game interaction design. The innovation and imperfection of this controller, combined with the excellent and popular games of its platform, has guided the industry to discover the most natural and efficient user interface of a gamepad.

It contributed immensely in the innovation of analog thumbstick, while it’s four C-buttons also suggested the utility of a second thumbstick. The criticism of its three- legged shape falsified its own approach in ergonomic design, yet it also triggered our realization, that the two-legged design should have always been the best form.

On the other hand, this research proved my assumption to be true, which is “the dominance of a certain gamepad interface design is caused by the majority of gamers benefiting from adapting or mastering only one style, thus making other interface designs less desirable and rare to find”. And this specific style happened to be the one evolved out of Nintendo 64 controller, Sega 3D Control Pad, and Sony Dual Analog Controller, becoming the “standard” for over 20 years. This standard will stay with us, inasmuch as our interaction with 3D video games remain unchanged. That is to say, as long as console gamers have the mental model of navigating the protagonist and camera using two thumbs, this interface design will be predominant for another 20 years, or even for the eternity of gamepad’s existence.

One of the upcoming changes in the industry, which might affect the trend of gamepad design, is the progressive domination of VR. When wearing a VR headset, the user can navigate certain elements, for example the camera, with their own body movements. This reduces the usage of the second thumbstick and a few buttons, leading to a change in the interface design. But the better question is: Will VR only affect the interface design of gamepads, or will it eliminate the practicality of gamepads altogether, and bring a new type of controller to dominate the market?

FIGURE 10 (NEXT PAGE): PATH TO THE “STANDARD” — A TIMELINE OF GAMEPADS; THIS GRAPH SHOWS THE EVOLUTION OF INTERFACE DESIGN, NOT BRAND SUCCESSION;

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Campbell, N. (2012) What percentage of buyers write reviews on Amazon?, quora.com. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from https://www.quora.com/What- percentage-of-buyers-write-reviews-on-Amazon

Infographic Of The Day: A Family Tree For Video Game Controllers. (2011). Co.Design. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664994/ infographic-of-the-day-a-family-tree-for-video-game-controllers

PlayStation Analog Joystick. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 24 March 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_Analog_Joystick

Ape Escape. (2016). Metacritic. Retrieved 24 March 2016, from http:// www.metacritic.com/game/playstation/ape-escape/critic-reviews

Ape Escape (PlayStation) - Sales, Wiki, Cheats, Walkthrough, Release Date, Gameplay, ROM on VGChartz. (2016). Vgchartz.com. Retrieved 24 March 2016, from http://www.vgchartz.com/game/86/ape-escape/

SNES Controller: The Most Influential Game Pad Ever? | Shamoozal - Animation Studio. (2007). Shamoozal.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// www.shamoozal.com/nerdlog/snes-controller-the-most-influential-game-pad-ever/

Super Mario 64/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// strategywiki.org/wiki/Super_Mario_64/Controls

GoldenEye 007/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// strategywiki.org/wiki/GoldenEye_007/Controls

Donkey Kong 64/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// strategywiki.org/wiki/Donkey_Kong_64/Controls

Perfect Dark/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// strategywiki.org/wiki/Perfect_Dark/Controls

Banjo-Kazooie /Abilities. (2016). Banjo-Kazooie Wiki. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://banjokazooie.wikia.com/wiki/Abilities

Good, O. (2016). Kotaku.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://kotaku.com/ 5903754/ebony-and-ivory-the-xboxs-black-and-white-buttons-in-imperfect-harmony

3D Control Pad. (2016). Sega Retro. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// segaretro.org/3D_Control_Pad

Best Selling Sega Saturn Games. (2016). Jjgames.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.jjgames.com/page/100-best-selling-sat-games

RadioSEGA | News. (2016). Radiosega.net. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from https:// www.radiosega.net/news/features/2012/03/how-sega-influenced-the-original-xbox/

Controls for GTA San Andreas. (2016). GTA Wiki. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Controls_for_GTA_San_Andreas

Controller's History Dynamite from 1UP.com. (2016). 1Up.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.1up.com/features/controller-history?pager.offset=4

Amazon Fire TV - Amazon's Official Site - Learn More. (2016). Amazon.com.

Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-DV83YW-Fire-TV/ dp/B00U3FPN4U/

Amazon.com: NVIDIA SHIELD - 4K Streaming Media (Netflix, HBO, Kodi / XBMC). Android TV with Chromecast. Advanced Gaming. 4X Higher Performance (Apple TV / Roku): Video Games. (2016). Amazon.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.amazon.com/NVIDIA-SHIELD-Streaming-Chromecast-Advanced- Performance/dp/B00U33Q940

Smith, D. (2016). Here's What Google's Game Controller For Android TV Looks Like. Business Insider. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// www.businessinsider.com/android-tv-game-controller-2014-6?IR=T

Appendix - Interview Questionnaires of 21 participants

Gender:

Male, Female

[17, 4]

Age range:

20-25, 25-35,35+

[16, 4, 1]

Gaming Since:

Before 5 yrs old, Before 10 yrs old, after 10 yrs old

[Mostly before 10, few before 5]

How do you like the fact that gamepad UIs are very similar to each other?

Strongly like, like, neutral, dislike, strongly dislike

[6, 8, 3, 4, 0]

If a new sequel of your favorite console game is released, what would you prefer for its input method?

Exactly same, mostly same, neutral, mostly new, completely new

[6, 8, 6, 1, 0]

A remake of your favorite console game is released, and you got the game as a present. But it’s only compatible with one of your least favorite controller at launch, developers promise to support other controllers later on. What would you do?

Wait, Use uncomfortable controller for now, Can’t decide/depends

[8, 12, 1]

Opinion on similarity of gamepad interfaces

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Opinion of input method of new titles

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Willing to sacrifice comfort of gamepad to experience new title

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Participants 1-4

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Participants 5-8

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Participants 9-12

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Participants 13-16

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Participants 17-20

illustration not visible in this excerpt

[...]


1 Duck Hunt. (1984). Wikipedia. Retrieved 16 March 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_Hunt

2 gamepad - Wiktionary. (2016). En.wiktionary.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from https://en.wiktionary.org/ wiki/gamepad

3 Hardware interface design. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 11 March 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Hardware_interface_design

4 Human-computer interaction. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 11 March 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Human%E2%80%93computer_interaction

5 Norman, D. (2013). The design of everyday things. Basic Books, 1, 10-25.

6 Why aren’t more PlayStation 4 games making better use of the DS4 touchpad?. (2014). PlayStation 4. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://ps4daily.com/2014/11/playstation-4-games-touchpad/

7 Loveridge, S. (2016). Is the Xbox One Elite Controller worth the upgrade?. TrustedReviews. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/xbox-one-elite-controller-vs-regular-wireless- controller

8 DualShock 4 drops analog buttons, citing lack of interest. (2016). Engadget. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/24/dualshock-4-drops-analog-buttons-citing-lack-of-interest/

9 Smith, D. (2016). Here's What Google's Game Controller For Android TV Looks Like. Business Insider. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/android-tv-game-controller-2014-6?IR=T

10 The best accessories for the new Apple TV: Bluetooth Keyboards, MFi game controllers, cables, more. (2015). 9to5Mac. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://9to5mac.com/2015/10/26/best-apple-tv-accessories/

11 The Making Of Super Mario 64 - full Giles Goddard interview (NGC) | pixelatron - website of mark green: web content guy, writer and editor. (2016). Pixelatron.com. Retrieved 25 March 2016, from http:// pixelatron.com/blog/the-making-of-super-mario-64-full-giles-goddard-interview-ngc/

12 Dome-Candy Games. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 16 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/user/ BaminationGames

13 3D Control Pad. (2016). Sega Retro. Retrieved 16 March 2016, from http://segaretro.org/3D_Control_Pad

14 Gallagher, J. (2010). The Evolution Of The PlayStation Controller. PlayStation.Blog.Europe. Retrieved 16 March 2016, from https://blog.eu.playstation.com/2010/09/16/the-evolution-of-the-playstation-controller/

15 Controller's History Dynamite from 1UP.com. (2016). 1Up.com. Retrieved 9 March 2016, from http://www. 1up.com/do/feature?pager.offset=3&cId=3143627

16 Langley, H. (2016). New Nintendo 3DS review. TechRadar. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from http:// www.techradar.com/us/reviews/gaming/games-consoles/new-nintendo-3ds-1281493/review

17 Amazon.com: circle pad pro. (2016). Amazon.com. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from http:// www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=circle+pad+pro

18 Campbell, N. (2012) What percentage of buyers write reviews on Amazon?, quora.com. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from https://www.quora.com/What-percentage-of-buyers-write-reviews-on-Amazon

19 Infographic Of The Day: A Family Tree For Video Game Controllers. (2011). Co.Design. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664994/infographic-of-the-day-a-family-tree-for-video- game-controllers

20 PlayStation Analog Joystick. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 24 March 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/PlayStation_Analog_Joystick

21 Ape Escape. (2016). Metacritic. Retrieved 24 March 2016, from http://www.metacritic.com/game/ playstation/ape-escape/critic-reviews

22 Ape Escape (PlayStation) - Sales, Wiki, Cheats, Walkthrough, Release Date, Gameplay, ROM on VGChartz. (2016). Vgchartz.com. Retrieved 24 March 2016, from http://www.vgchartz.com/game/86/ape-escape/

23 SNES Controller: The Most Influential Game Pad Ever? | Shamoozal - Animation Studio. (2007). Shamoozal.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.shamoozal.com/nerdlog/snes-controller-the- most-influential-game-pad-ever/

24 Super Mario 64/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Super_Mario_64/Controls

25 GoldenEye 007/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://strategywiki.org/wiki/GoldenEye_007/Controls

26 Donkey Kong 64/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Donkey_Kong_64/Controls

27 Perfect Dark/Controls — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy guide wiki. (2016). Strategywiki.org. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Perfect_Dark/Controls

28 Banjo-Kazooie /Abilities. (2016). Banjo-Kazooie Wiki. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// banjokazooie.wikia.com/wiki/Abilities

29 Good, O. (2016). Kotaku.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://kotaku.com/5903754/ebony-and- ivory-the-xboxs-black-and-white-buttons-in-imperfect-harmony

30 3D Control Pad. (2016). Sega Retro. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://segaretro.org/3D_Control_Pad

31 Best Selling Sega Saturn Games. (2016). Jjgames.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http:// www.jjgames.com/page/100-best-selling-sat-games

32 RadioSEGA | News. (2016). Radiosega.net. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from https://www.radiosega.net/ news/features/2012/03/how-sega-influenced-the-original-xbox/

33 As in four face buttons and four shoulder buttons

34 Controls for GTA San Andreas. (2016). GTA Wiki. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://gta.wikia.com/ wiki/Controls_for_GTA_San_Andreas

35 Controller's History Dynamite from 1UP.com. (2016). 1Up.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www. 1up.com/features/controller-history?pager.offset=4

36 Amazon Fire TV - Amazon's Official Site - Learn More. (2016). Amazon.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-DV83YW-Fire-TV/dp/B00U3FPN4U/

37 Amazon.com: NVIDIA SHIELD - 4K Streaming Media (Netflix, HBO, Kodi / XBMC). Android TV with Chromecast. Advanced Gaming. 4X Higher Performance (Apple TV / Roku): Video Games. (2016). Amazon.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.amazon.com/NVIDIA-SHIELD-Streaming- Chromecast-Advanced-Performance/dp/B00U33Q940

38 Smith, D. (2016). Here's What Google's Game Controller For Android TV Looks Like. Business Insider. Retrieved 21 March 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/android-tv-game-controller-2014-6?IR=T

41 of 41 pages

Details

Title
Natural Selection by Gamers? The Influence of the 32-bit Era on subsequent Gamepad Design
College
Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Enschede
Course
Game Design & Production
Grade
C
Author
Year
2016
Pages
41
Catalog Number
V322669
ISBN (Book)
9783668262423
File size
984 KB
Language
English
Tags
Gamepad, Industrial Design, User Interface, Video Game History
Quote paper
Lóng Zhang (Author), 2016, Natural Selection by Gamers? The Influence of the 32-bit Era on subsequent Gamepad Design, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/322669

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