Last week we kicked off Extra Consideration, a brand new column here at The Escapist where we allow our best and brightest to discuss the industry's big issues.

In our first installment, Yahtzee, MovieBob, and James Portnow began discussing the state of console gaming and the conversation eventually turned to controllers...

imageJames Portnow: Interestingly, while I agree with Yahtzee for the most part, we are members of a shockingly small minority. The Wii's success has been based on the fact that while we consider playing stick/button based videogames to be some simple thumb twiddling, many people actually find our modern controls unapproachably complex and would much rather mimic actions they already understand.

That said, I do think you gloss over the fact that certainly some activities are better with a physical component. There are a number of sports which are simply better in real life than with thumbsticks because of the kinetic elements involved in playing them. If this is true there, why not for other types of play we have yet to discover? I say we continue experimenting. Go back pre-DS and look at all the detractors who said a stylus was the worst input idea of all time... My Wii gets far more use with a classic controller than with a Wiimote, but I believe this is mostly from the fact that we haven't really found the right applications for motion controls, not something inherently flawed in the input method. Dismiss this method of input whole cloth and who knows what incredible games never end up getting made.

imageMovieBob: Would Guitar Hero be as successful, or even "work" at all, if it was played with controller-buttons rather than a "real" toy guitar?

Over-complicated controls brings up another issue I'd be curious to hear both of your thoughts on: Prior to this generation and the impact of motion-control (for good or ill), were console game-designers TOO focused on the "first wave" gamer audience (i.e. gamers who started early-80s) to the detriment of those who came after? It's a theory I've been picking at for awhile.

What I mean is... when I look at, say, a 360 controller; objectively it's nothing so much as a vaugely-ergonomic plastic blob ENCRUSTED with buttons of various sizes and shapes - aesthetically, controllers of the last two or three generations have all looked like someone went into a craft store, slammed a chunk of wet clay into a bucket of beads, then handed the resulting lump to a design-firm intern and said "make a slightly more symetrical version of THIS."

Yet, when I start playing any given (non-Wii, where all bets are off) game, unless its control-scheme is truly abysmal I can usually pick it right up. Why? Well, I think it's because console gaming and I "grew up together." I started with the NES, moved up to the SNES/Genesis, then the N64/PS/PS2 and so on and so on - controller-complexity evolved in-tandem with my generation's ability to handle said complexity. It's the same way with content: In 1985, the majority of "big" games were aimed at grade-schoolers. In 2011, the majority of "big" games are aimed at guys in their late 20s/early 30s... in other words, the "main" game audience of now and the "main" game audience of then is THE SAME PEOPLE, they just got older.

My point being: Did we "lose out" on having a broader base of people playing games by letting "basic skills" games fall by the wayside with each successive leap-forward (i.e. once games went 3D everyone "gave up" on 2D side-scrollers) until fairly recently? Would we be in a substantially different "place" in console-gaming if there had been even HALF as many "gateway games" on the PS2 as there were on the NES?

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