How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy (t3knomanser) wrote,
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy
t3knomanser

Design and Control

After a few weeks of playing with the Nintendo Wii, I'm still impressed. It's as cool as the hype leads you to believe- and that's impressive. The motion sensitive control combined with the ability to act as a pointer is amazing. Using ranged weapons in The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess is a joy- you aim by pointing.

Now, let's be fair- that isn't all that innovative. Nintendo had that idea back in the late 80's. Ah, the PowerGlove. The idea, the goal was the same- but the technology wasn't there yet. It was ahead of its time, and neither the games nor the system could really handle it. So really, the Wiimote is an implementation of an idea- and the first successful implementation. That's impressive. I don't want to take anything away from Nintendo on that one.

But I think the whole Wiimote concept is overshadowing another incredible feature.
Look at this:
Now this:
And this:


I could break out all sorts of other controllers, but this is a pretty representative sample. All of these controllers are just ergonomic variations on the same basic design. Two hands are required, and they're going to be brought together in front of your body. Your arms aren't really designed for that. Neither are your wrists. And if you look at it- is there any reason for it to be crammed together like that? Your left hand never needs to reach a button on the right side, and vice versa. The left hand does one thing, the right hand does another, but the controller forces them to be right next to each other in a position that causes a great deal of fatigue.

Using traditional controllers, I can play for an hour or two before needing a break. Now, look at this:
The Wiimote with nunchuck attachment. It uses roughly the same control metaphor as every other control, including shoulder buttons and dpads and thumbsticks. Now, I don't know which came first, the motion sensitive controller or this nunchuck design, but I think the nunchuck design is much more of a breakthrough.

This frees me from the twisted-wrist and unnatural position forced by other controllers. On a game like Zelda, my left hand can wander wherever is comfortable. Across my body, on my lap. I can relax with that controller and sit however I feel like. If I want to use a ranged weapon, I need to keep my right hand, the one with the Wiimote, pointed at the screen, but that's easy. It's a fairly natural gesture and the Wiimote makes it pretty easy with a natural contour. There's no fatigue, no thumb-callousing pressures. I have (accidentally) slipped into playing Zelda for nearly five hours straight. Much of that is a credit to the game design. But a great deal of it is a credit to the design of the controller. It's comfortable to play for that long.
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