Controllers have become significantly more complex over the years, morphing from a single button and joystick into something with a lot more buttons and details. The complex nature of controllers reflects the nature of modern video games.
Modern controllers can have up to 16 buttons, two analogue sticks and can include motion-sensitivity. This is the standard today. It’s clear then, that modern games are very different now to the original generation of games.
For video games, a controller is an extension of the world it’s set it. It’s how we input commands and direct how the events unfold on screen and across the world. Super Mario 64 was reinforced by the Nintendo 64’s controller. This particular controller was control-stick focused which allowed the game to feature environments that emphasised the exploration of the world. In addition to this, 3D action games are focused around seeking out and moving towards objectives which comes from the fact that controllers now feature two analogue sticks: one assigned to movement and the other to camera control.
It’s clear then that controllers are very important when it comes to designing video games. Just consider how different a VR game is compared to a console game, even Skyrim VR feels like a different game to the original console/PC game. As a result, the shape of controllers affects the course of how genres develop and evolve.
Controllers also play a role in the way that games depict reality. However, this is difficult to do when it comes to portraying human interaction and emotion. As a result, developers must be creative in how they use controllers. For the most part, however, they need to simplify these portrayals of intimacy and other human interactions. This also affects other aspects of digital worlds seen in video games.
With the addition of touch and motion-based controllers, there’s increasing pressure to include more complex interactivity and human themes into games. Dialogue choices currently don’t offer many options so it’s possible we could see some controllers starting to move towards aiding expand this area. Further advances in controllers may change the way we treat choices in games.
While touchscreens are limited for complex games, they have provided a large amount of versatility for gamers. However, the virtual reality genre is pushing controllers in an interesting direction also. They blend real-world movements with in-game motions to create something that feels more immersive and realistic compared to other genres.
There’s a clear trend in how console manufacturers design their controllers; to suit all types of games on that platform. As a result, it’s possible that controller development may be a little be limited but it will continue to evolve as our video games change. In addition to this, how we play video games is drastically changing and we could see some large jumps over the next decade