Since the dawn of controllers, companies have struggled with the challenge of getting people to type words using just a stick (or d-pad) and some buttons. The latest company to take a shot at this Holy Grail Of Couch Gaming is Valve.
Many others have come before them, and have either failed, relied on stupid keypad dongles or just...succeeded in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Beyond Good & Evil had a pretty good solution:
So too does the PS4, with it’s gyroscopic typing allowing for fast, smooth input.
Even Valve themselves have given it a shot, with Steam’s Big Picture mode using this “move then pick one” approach that’s fast, but takes some getting used to.
But here comes Valve again with something new. As part of a video released earlier today, the company spends a few seconds showing off how its new Steam controller types. It starts below, at around 0:35
As you can see, the gimmick here is that it’s letting you type with both thumbs at once (selecting the letter appears to be done by tapping the “thumbstick” area itself rather than pressing a button).
Will it work any better? Until we’ve got retail units in our hands in October, who knows. My money is on “it’ll kinda work, well enough” because if this problem was easy to actually fix—or even possible to fix at all—I think it would have already been solved by now.
Typing with two thumbs at once looks fast in this clip, but I suspect for many it’ll be like trying to pat their heads while rubbing their belly.
The control pad is good for a lot of things, but hey, maybe typing just isn’t ever going to be one of them?