Facebook Files: Controller Ergonomics

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This week in Facebook Files, we’re discussing videogame controllers. You can check out the ongoing Facebook discussion in this thread, which covers a lot more topics than the excerpts in this posts.


Samwise wrote:

I’ve got fairly large hands. And fairly long fingers. I also suffer from arthritis, and am very sensitive to cramps. As such, I find some controllers downright unbearable! Not only that, but there are some really whacky controller design choices…


What’s wrong with the DSlite? Well, I can’t really reach the A button without drastically changing my hand position. This makes it cramp up with the quickness. The B button is also tricky, but not as bad… I think this has to do with the positioning relative to the bottom (id est, not much space). I don’t mind the Y and X buttons so much, but even so I wish they were all bigger, and slightly more arcade button-ish.


Then comes the L and R buttons! Yeesh! They’re designed to be pressed with the tops of the index finger, which means you need to have your fingers straight like a bracket. It gets old, fast. Not to mention pressing the dpad and L button at once is nigh impossible with my hands… It really hurts!


Anton wrote:

As far as the 360 controller goes, I find that the D-pad isn’t the only issue. It’s quite heavy and doesn’t feel entirely comfortable in my hands. I do agree with you that the analogue sticks are positioned perfectly, though. That’s the only thing I find off with the Playstation controllers. Other than that though, the Playstation controller has been, in my opinion, the most ergonomic controller for the past 15 years.


Oh, and as an aside, I have to say that I hate the rumble feature on ANY controller. Curse you Nintendo for introducing that damn rumble pack with Star Fox 64!


Steven wrote:

I have a DSi XL and don’t like the controls any more than the DS Lite. First of all it feels like handling a big, third or so of an inch thick, piece of flat plastic. It is not comfortable to hold. At least when I had the DS Lite I had a decent accessory to help alleviate the flatness of it.


The face buttons and the L/R buttons feel much like they do on the Lite (I’m pretty sure they have about the same spacing), however, the Lite has the BEST d-pad of all current DS models. Playing Super Mario 64 DS on the Lite was a breeze due the a d-pad that could detect diagonal directions no problem.


However, I love the XL because it has very nice screens that I can actually see. Some games look pretty bad on it (DQIX) and others look better because you can see more of the small details (Castlevania, FFXII: RW) RTS games like Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings and Blue Dragon Plus as well as touch-based games like Zelda play SO MUCH BETTER with the bigger touch screens.


What controller or system ergonomics do you like or dislike? How would you make them better? Would you consider buying from a company that creates custom controllers tuned to different tastes? Fire away in the comments!

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Image of Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.