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Handheld Controllers Vs. Motion Controls

Game controllers, whether they be wireless, wired, or motion, will always remain an important part of video game culture.  After all, the earliest of systems used simple joysticks, and as platform technology advanced (consoles, computers, etc), so did the tools to play them. But do these evolutions mean we will move away from the classic handheld?

Screen_20Shot_202012-06-03_20at_203.12.39_20PM_largeOne of the main reasons I believe we cannot eradicate the handheld controller is because – for many of us – that is what we know; it is what we were raised on. The combination of handheld controller and video game is much like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it’s just not the same without the two together!  The advent of motion and touch controls will not stop the way we know things.  It’s an art-form!

Another major reason is that we need to “feel” in control.  With motion controls, you physically need to lean left and right as you play, as if you were within the action, in order to succeed.  This has been happening for ages with handheld controls…. In fact, this couldn’t be demonstrated any better than from watching my dad playing a game, ANY game. If there is a cliff that necessitates a jump, his hands and controller jump to the other side as well. If he is driving around a turn, then his body goes with him. I am sure that my dad is not alone.  All of us have been there at one point or another, and so has your controller.

$T2eC16dHJIQE9qUHuFOYBRY0lk)v-Q~~_35For now motion controls are more of a novelty for me. The Wii, Playstation Move, and Kinect are all fun, but I never really got a sense of WOW!  They’re interesting and innovative, sure, but they do not compare in any lengths to the first time I picked up a NES controller. This probably goes back to that feeling of accomplishment achieved once I’ve gotten the hang of using a controller, the elaborate button patterns, and ultimately defeating game after game.

When it comes to play time, motion controllers can really tire you out!  If I have a game that I want to play and it really sucks me in, I want to be able to play it until I have to force my eyes to stay open, not until I sprain an ankle or get a really bad leg cramp.  Sometimes I just want to sit and play a video game… zone out.  The bottom line is: I want to be immersed with little effort.

The main lesson I’ve learned from handheld controllers is limitless ability it allows me, as a player.  Once the novelty wears off, motion detecters have a limited range of commands and actions, something that a controller will not do. Handheld controllers give the player more options on accomplishing goals, beyond what physical limitations a person may have in reality.  Response time, combinations, clever tricks are much more effective and immediate.  Motion detectors have an array of distractions that may pop up unexpectedly — difficulty recognizing a leg versus an elbow, the unwanted appearance of a dog in the detector’s view, etc.

Overall, technology continues to improve every day, year, and so on.  Sooner or later, developers will find a way to truly immerse us within a game experience, but to me, they still have quite a ways to go.  Until then, it’s handheld controllers all the way for me!

David Follo
Project Manager

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Talk Back

Kyle Smyers
Posted on December 6, 2013

A very interesting observation about controllers. Handheld controllers will always be a preferred platform in which to interact because we are accustomed to it, but it also gives almost anyone who plays has the maximum amount of usability without being restricted by their real world afflictions. My girlfriend’s mother loves the idea of the Kinect and enjoys watching us play Kinect Adventures, but because of her knees she can’t experience the game for herself and is left on the side lines. Now, if someone doesn’t have the ability to move their fingers but still has the full range of motion with their body then obviously motion controllers will be more suitable. If you compare the numbers between people who have finger disabilities compared to people with motion disabilities, the latter will definitely be the greater of the two.

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