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Human is a vast variety of controllers

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Human computer interaction is an essential part of gaming
and general computer usage, because it is the only way that a person can
‘Communicate’ with a computer. This is because the Person understands the
inputs, for example a keyboard has letters on it, when pressed the computer
will receive a binary code telling the computer that a key has been pressed and
which one it was, and then the computer follows the rest of the instructions.
For console this is represented by a Game controller, which have many different.
Starting off they were designs like the joystick.

 

Interface Devices:

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So what is the difference between HIC devices? And why are
there more than one? There is a vast variety of controllers and devices that
have been purposely designed for certain consoles and devices. The De facto
standard would be something that fits the average hand with two joysticks for
the thumbs and various other buttons placed for other fingers. This is the
general idea of a controller for a games console. Consoles such as the
PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo share these common tropes in ergonomic and
anthropometric designs.

Other HIC devices such as Keyboard and mouse for PC’s are
very differently designed. Where console devices are made to fit the users hand
and the buttons are perfectly fitted and placed for the fingers on the average
hand the keyboard is a large flat device. The keyboard has advantages and
disadvantages, the most obvious disadvantage being that it does not fit around a
user’s hand like a console controller and that is it usually very large is
comparison. However a Keyboard has much more functionality with the keyboard
being larger there is much more space for keys and buttons, some of which are
programmable. Because PC’s are multi-functional rather than made just for
gaming, like a console, their input devices allow for fast text entry. It would
take much longer to type on a console as there is no keyboard on the stock
controller. And in addition to the Keyboard there is the Mouse, which is used
in conjunction. In terms video games the Mouse performs the same job as the
joystick. The Mouse is much more ergonomically designed. Mice are curved to fit
the curvature of the palm of a hand, and the left mouse button and right mouse
button are placed so that the index finger and middle finger are placed right
on top of the buttons. Some other buttons can be placed on mice for extra
functionality.

New ideas have generated new controllers some of which have
caught on and some which failed to become a widely used device. An example of
this is motion controllers. Devices like the PlayStation Move and the Xbox
Kinect. Both of which are made for their own consoles, and player input is done
via body movements and gestures. This technology peaked around 2015 because it
was new and was a lot more involved compared to a standard controller. However
the first console to use motion control was the Nintendo Wii.

In addition to motion control, there are many other forms of
HCI, examples such as dance mats, the Wii Fit Board, Musical Instrument controllers.
Dance mats have existed for a long time, mostly being dedicated for certain
dance games or arcade machines. The mat uses pressure sensors in the mat where
the user would stand to input a command. This is not very functional however,
because it has very limited uses, It cannot be used as a controller for
anything else and even other games using similar HCI devices would most likely
not support this device due to it being designed for a certain game. The Wii
Fit board was a huge success at launch, this is because of its advertising
campaign and its target market. The Wii Fit board was advertised as a device
which you can use for their new Wii Fit game which would use the Boards
functionality for exercise games, which appealed to people who wanted to stay
fit and exercise without leaving the house etc. The Board was also advertised
for family fun games. Using the pressure sensors in the board Nintendo were
able to make fun and interactive games for the Wii fit board.

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Ergonomic design:

So as stated before, the mainstream HCI devices are video
game controllers, as well as the keyboard and mouse. But aside from the
accessibility of them, why are they so popular? It has a lot to do with how
they are designed and built. This is because although it is important for a
device to be able to interact with the computer well, it must also interact
with the human well too, hence Human-Computer Interface. What is meant by this
is that it doesn’t matter how technologically advanced a HCI device is, it
still needs to be usable in a human’s hands. This is where Ergonomic design
comes in. Ergonomic design refers to how a device is made to be held or used,
and whether or not it is easy to use. This can be decided simply by using it,
and seeing how easy it is to either hold it, or interact with it to achieve
what you need to do on the device with ease. This is why controllers are so
popular.

If you look at the design of most controllers through the
years, you will see a strong correlation of how they are held and used, most
notably in the range of Xbox or PlayStation controllers. The image to the right
is the appearance of the Xbox One’s controller, and is designed to be held by
the player using both hands, and for the persons fingers to be able to use both
analogue sticks, the direction pad, and the buttons. As well as the triggers
and buttons on top. With all of these different buttons and controls required
to play most games, as well as function the menus of the Xbox itself, it needs
to have a strong and well thought out Ergonomic design. So what about is it
designed well? For starters, if you look at the two protruding parts at the
bottom of the controller. These have been designed so the controller will fit
in the hands of the player. Specifically shaped so that it will fit within the
average persons palms and be comfortable. Comfort is an important part to the
ergonomic design as a HCI device such as this is often used for an extended
period of time by many people, so having something which is uncomfortable to
hold will eventually grate on the players nerves, as well as irritate or create
a rash or blisters on the hands. So in order to avoid this and to let people
play on the device for as long as possible, comfort is of a main concern.
Furthermore, this can be seen within other aspects to the design as well. such
as the location of the analogue sticks within the controller. This is where the
Xbox controller sets itself apart from the PlayStation. While both can be
considered comfortable, the two different shapes of the controlled allow for a
different set up of sticks.

Picture

As you can see, the PlayStation controller takes on a very
similar appearance, following the similar conventions of protruding bottom
parts to reinforce the hands, however you can probably tell that the
PlayStation controller is a lot more slimline, it isn’t as heavy, and is less
clunky. The analog sticks are both located at the bottom of the controller
unlike the Xbox controller, which makes for a slightly different player
experience, but remains almost the same in other aspects such as the location
of buttons and triggers. The ergonomic design of these two controllers are
designs around the resting position of the hands, this is why they are so similar,
and is also why they are so comfortable.

This is also why the mouse and keyboard is so different, as
computers don’t use a HCI designed to be held, they require a table or mat to
work well. This is because the HCI to a device is determined by what its primary
use is. As computers are designed to be used to type up documents and navigate
through documents, using a game controller is less practical, as it would
heavily depend on the analog sticks to move through each option in order to
reach the correct button or lay out. Whereas although the mouse and keyboard is
much more clunky and bigger, and requires addition support, it is also fit for
purpose, as the individual keys and the ability to move the mouse in any
direction makes it much more simple and quicker to use. As such, gaming is more
of an afterthought, and has been adapted ti fit the HCI, as opposed to the
gaming consoles whose HCI has been adapted to fit the games.

Button Configurations:

As i may have briefly mentioned above, the location of the buttons
play a key part in what makes a HCI comfortable and easy to use. This can be
seen when looking at the conventional game control once again. There are four
buttons in a plus placement located on the right, and a directional pad which
is also shaped like a plus on the other side. While the Xbox position differs
to the conventional controller, the principle still remains the same. This is
that by making the controllers button configuration symmetrical, as can be seen
from the PS4 controller, it makes the position of both the buttons and d-pad a
much better configuration, as it provides a much easier way to control what’s
going on in the games. This is because not only are they placed in the most
optimal position for the finger placement, but also because the 4 buttons and
the directional pad are some of the most used controls, and so by putting these
in the most comfortable place, it means the player will be in this position
more than anything else. In addition to this, the general configuration of what
the buttons control are also optimized within the games themselves. For
example, in most First person shooters, the controls tend to stick to similar
guidelines. Things such as (going by Xbox controls) A being jump, B melee, Y to
switch weapons, and X  for things such as
switching grenades etc. While there are often different configurations that can
be customized within the game, it usually just swaps the buttons uses around,
while still maintaining the same controls within the 4 button line up. This
form of button configuration is purposefully set out to make it the easiest way
to play, and this also includes the placements of the top bumpers and triggers
too. Because of how the controls within a game are set, the triggers are often
an important aspect to a games control. As such, they are also placed in a
comfortable and reachable position. In addition to this, the bumpers are
located nest to the triggers, this is because in order to enhance the HCI for
the user, the bumpers are located next to the triggers, as it is rare for
someone to need to press the left trigger and the left bumper at the same time,
as such by placing them next to each other, it works like the accelerator and
break within a car, placing them next to each other as you only need one foot to
press them.

This button configuration can also be seen on how the
computer keyboard is designed. Although the key placement is determined by how
typewriters were designed, they are both set to serve the same purpose, and as
such it is just as relevant. So just like the button placement on a controller,
the letter keys of a keyboard are designed to optimize typing speed by having
each letter strategically placed to make it comfortable for the user to type
words with two hands, as it was designed. It is debatable however on how
efficient this QWERTY keyboard layout is, as the original idea behind this
layout was thought to be to place the most common letters in the hardest places
to reach, so that it could slow people down so that the typewriter’s mechanisms
wouldn’t jam. Despite this though, the QWERTY keyboard format has become
mainstream, and by using this less efficient layout for computer devices, it
still helps in the HCI as it is what people have come to expect.

There is another less popular layout which has been created,
named the Dvorak layout. The configuration can be seen below.

 Picture

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This configuration has been created so that the most used
letters are on the middle row of letters, making the distance between typing
letters from the default hand position less, and therefore quicker typing
experience. This is in principle however, as the QWERTY keyboard has been
around for so long, it would probably be less efficient to use the more
efficient design, as we are all used to the configuration of QWERTY.

The button configuration for keyboards are less efficient
when looking at gaming however. When you look at most video games played on the
computer, you will find the most common keys used are W, A, S, and D. These
letters act as the directional pad equivalent to a controller, and the movement
of turning and looking is done using the mouse movement. This means that like
the controllers, two hands are also needed for the computer, but are used using
a different hand position. The reason that this HCI is less than optimal for
the keyboard is because if you look at the position of WASD, while the ASD are
all aligned, the W is not aligned with the S key, which would make for a more
comfortable position. This is due to the way the keys are placed for typing,
further reiterating how the gaming HCI for computers is an afterthought. There
are perks to gaming on a PC in relation to HCI however, as the vast amount of
keys allows for shortcuts and commands which a controller couldn’t replicate.
There are even special gamer specific keyboards which include additional
buttons usually located at the top of the keyboard, so that people may equip
specific functions to them within games, while also not effecting the usual HCI
for normal computer uses.

User-Cantered design:

Also known as UCD, this is the process in which designers
use to optimize thier products for the market, as this process is where they
test our thow well a device (in this case controllersand HCI) is fit for
purpose. This ois done over many steps of the development process, and is how
the final product beciomes so well designed. This can be seen from the examples
above. How thje UCDis dertermined is through how fit for purpose the HCI is,
and as such, how the fibnal product is created rest soley on what its most
common uses will be, and wheather it can achibe this or not. In relation to
gaming, when developing a controller, they will use the UCD concepts learnt
from previous designs and how well people interact witht the new one in order
to make it as comfortable and useful as possible. There are examples i whch
this might not have been fully achieved even in the final product. And example
of tis could be the Wii remote. The Wii remote actually gives two examples on
the importance of UCD. The first is how well it shows the importance of this
research, and how drastically it can effect the final product. This is because
if you look at the design for the Wii remote, it differs greatly when looking
at anny oher consoile controller.

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This is all thanks to the UCD, as through this research, it
has become apparent that the best shape for a console which relies on motion
control would be this, as seen above. This is because it fits in the players
hand well, ad because an additional controller, also known as a Nunchuck, is
only needed for specific games, and so the Wii remote only needs to fit within
one hand. Another attribute that falls under a user-centered design is that of
which buttons will be placed where because of its unconventional design.

The second example of the uses of UCD within the Wii
controller’s design is the strap. When the Wii was first released, players
experienced issue with holding onto the Wii remote, and at this point the
controller didn’t feature any strap with it. It is because of this that
Nintendo added the strap to the controller, so that when the player drops it,
or lets it go, the remote does not fly across the room and get damaged or cause
damage, but instead remains with the player, hanging from their wrist. This
oversight within the user-generated design meant that the control had to be re
designed, and as a huge hassle. While it could be argued that this was due to a
lack of UCD research, the fact that the Wii was released in different regions
at different times, it means that the UCD process is on going until it made
available in all regions.

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Portability:

Portability is important to some designs, and less important
to others, as such, how well a HCI is designed is up to how practical it is in
terms of movement. For controllers, it is important to have some portability,
which is why over the years as technology has evolved, it has become mainstream
for them to be wireless. But why is this so important/ useful. Well when a
controller has to be plugged in, it restricts the movement of the player. The
movement of the player isn’t necessarily important to most games, especially
these with no motion control, but when sitting in a room, having wires can
greatly restrict where the player can sit, the wire could get tangles, or be in
an unsafe place, or be obstructed by something in between the player and the
console. This is why it is a good HCI to have this wireless portability
available, as it means there is more choice to the player on where or how they
may sit.

A different aspect to portability can be seen within mobile
devices. Firstly, handheld gaming consoles. Obviously if a console is designed
to be carried around and played on the go, it means it should be as small and
compact as possible. This is not only determined by the amount of tech within
it, but also by the design and shape of it s well. A good example of ho HCI has
been modified to be beneficial in portability is the Nintendo DS lineup. The DS
features two screens, and this would ordinarily take up a lot of room. However
t a slight sacrifice to durability, they added hinges to the device so that the
two screens could fold together. Not only does this half the size of it,
allowing it to fit within the average pocket, but it also means the screens are
less prone to scratches. To cover their bases and to ensure everyone is
satisfies, Nintendo also released a Nintendo 2DS, which is a more child
friendly durable DS, which has its hinges removed and to built with thicker
plastic, in order to adapt the HCI to fit the needs of younger children. The
downside is that it has worse portability because of its size.

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Another case in which portability is enhanced using HCI is
via an interface of a design.  This is
mainly centered around mobile phones, as they are after all, supposed to be
mobile. The ergonomic design is adapted much in the same way the portable
gaming devices are, ensuring they fit within a pocket well, and that they are
easily accessible. However another main focus to the HCI in terms of
portability is how easy the actual computer interface is to use. If a mobile
device used an interface equivalent of a computer desktop, and was the size of
an average screen, it would become a lot harder to function in general, as the
interface would be so small it would be hard to see and use. And because of
this, the portable uses of it would be severely decreased, as it means users
will have to use extra focus and attention on it, and this could slow them down
when on the go. This is why newer phones have begun using more simplistic
interfaces, which are easy to use and quick to get a hang of, which ultimately
effects its portability, as they can function well even when in a rush or while
walking around. Interfaces such as Window phone’s panel look, or Apple iPhone’s
apps make it easy to select what you need and to distinguish one thing from
another. This is also aided by the fact that phones are becoming more reliant
on touch screen technology, which further helps in both portability and UCD.

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