On the Wii Controller and Videogame Controlls (A Rant)

Last weekend I was browsing the store shelves with my wife while looking for Legos to play with. My wife said she liked the Star Wars Legos because they reminded her of the video game. I asked her “do you want to play those?” She agreed, so we picked up Lego Star Wars for the Wii. We could have gotten it for any other system, but I haven’t used the Wii in ages, so I thought I’d dust it off and give it one last go before I bought the WiiU. The game is fun, but it has one major flaw: it’s not compatible with the Classic Controller. And so…

…I will never again buy a Wii game that doesn’t let me connect the classic controller.

My wife and I started playing. She was Obi Wan while I controlled Qui Gon Jin. I understood the controls fairly quickly and was able to deflect bullets within a minute. Meanwhile, my wife struggled to get how the game was controlled. As I encouraged her to “follow me forward”, her character would run off in a random direction or, more often, attack me as she wildly flailed her hands around trying to figure out what to do. “This is stupid”, she said, “if this were a normal controller I’d know how to play.” I agree. I have seen her play other games. She finished Suikoden 4 a day before I did, played through the entire Tales Wii games using the classic controller, and actually finished Skies of Arcadia. She’s also fairly competent in a few fighting games.

And yet she couldn’t make her character move in the correct direction.

Given that it also took me a few minutes to complete puzzles that would have taken me seconds with a normal controller, I need to place all the blame on that waggle stick.

So here’s my message to game developers:

I know that right now you are thinking about the cool trendy trends that games are going through. You are having wild ideas regarding cloud gaming and motion controls and always online and social games with skip functions. Don’t just randomly jump into the bandwagon. THINK carefully about how these elements can help your game overall and how you can implement them into your design. Don’t just do something to be cool. Don’t make a game for X Box then remap “B button” to “move the Wiimote up and down”, just allow players to use the classic controller (or whatever equivalent will come in the next generation). There are several elements that make up what games are, and good controls are some of the most important considerations.

Don’t drop the ball by trying to jump into a bandwagon of lame “coolness”.


About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on October 16, 2012, in Video Game Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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