Unless you’re a staunch supporter of a single machine, you’ve probably played more than one video console in your time. And if you alternate between consoles often, you’re undoubtedly familiar with one of the most common design complaints — there’s no consistency between those emblematic buttons.
In short, if you play Switch, PS5 and Xbox, the ‘X’ button is in three different places. So if a game instructs you to press ‘X’, you’ll better remember which console you’re using at that particular time. But what if there was some other way? (Ready to start gaming? Check out today’s best Nintendo Switch deals)
Game designer Alex Camilleri has shared a design for a button layout created by his wife on Twitter, claiming it could “fix the game industry”. Instead of a random assortment of letters and shapes thrown at us right now, it suggests adopting compass points: N, S, E and W. In fact, if it becomes a universal standard for all controllers, surely we can say goodbye to the which-button-should-I-press confusion.
Yesterday my wife carelessly fixed the sports industry pic.twitter.com/hgzWRichEn27 October 2022
“This is really genius. Why hasn’t any company tried this yet?” One Twitter user comments, while another adds, “I’ve been thinking this for years!” That said, there are some who can’t help but read the four coordinates as the word ‘news’.
Although it may sound minor, the button-gate is a very controversial issue among gamers. Last year, it was suggested (opens in new tab) That when instructing the user to press a button, the game UI should always show it in context (below). If anything, it’s a clear sign that things are too complicated – for users of the three main consoles, finding the ‘X’ button to press can feel like a game in itself.
Still, there is a lot of progress being made in the world of game controllers – from Sony’s wild new controller concept to Apple’s smartphone controller design. Whether they will ever find a common ground in terms of symbols, however, is another matter entirely.