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In Praise of the Video Game Controller, the Violin for 'Gaming's Virtuosos'

Illustration for article titled In Praise of the Video Game Controller, the Violin for Gamings Virtuosos

To those who are infatuated with motion controls—their fingers swiping across iPad, their hands waving in front of Kinects—I'd like to point out that the controller is still an excellent and precise (!) way to play video games.


That is the point of a new piece about the benefits of the unheralded video game controller that I wrote for the New York Times. You can read it online today or in Saturday's paper.

Here's an excerpt:

To devotees of the controller, many of the popular new gaming models are celebrations of slop. And they're right. Finger swipes, hand waves or voice commands are less precise. They are video gaming's version of steering a car by tilts of the driver's head and being able to accelerate only with vocal commands to "speed up."

Unlike, say, reading a book, in which the mechanics of tracking your eyes across a page of printed words has generally been accepted as the ideal from the beginning, in gaming it's an open question as to which way is better for the player to interact with the virtual world created. (The controller fan's lament, for example, echoes earlier complaints by computer-game players who scorned game systems and their controllers, instead championing the precision offered by a mouse and a keyboard.)


The quote in the headline up top about the violin for "gaming's virtuosos" is from Double Fine's Drew Skillman, a developer of the Kinect game Happy Action Theater who still has many kind words for devices that have buttons and thumbsticks.

Less Flailing, More Pushing: The Joy of Joysticks [The New York Times]

(Top photo by Junko Kimura| Getty Images)

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Touch controls = motion controls?