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MassDebate avatar 5:03 PM on 06.12.2011  (server time)
Debatoid: In 25 years, will controllers with sticks/buttons be rare in gaming?

Welcome to Debatoid! We take a controversial topic, form a proposition, and set two contenders the challenge of stating their case in favor of and in opposition to the proposition. After which, users may vote to decide which contender they support. Rules for voting are at the bottom of the blog, but it is recommended that you read the contenders' cases before you cast your vote.

The proposition: In 25 years, controllers with sticks/buttons will be rare in gaming.

VenusInFurs states his case for the proposition:

First off, I would like to say that the ďstick and buttonĒ controllers will never go away. Most controllers will have them, but in the future we will use less of it, and rely more on motion and IR controls.

From personal experience, I can say without a doubt that motion and IR controllers are as good, if not, better than the good olí controllers of yore. Most ďhardcoreĒ gamers will say itís just a fad that will quickly go away, and that it doesnít enhance the gaming experience. My friends, these so called ďhardcoreĒ gamers are the philistines of our industry. They refuse to accept anything new, and most of the time, they havenít even experienced motion or touch screen controlled games.

Now, Iím no wandering ignorant soul, I can clearly see, and acknowledge, that there are a plethora of horrible motion controlled games, but what about the good ones? For instance, take a game like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, a game that defines the word simplicity. The game is absent from any kind of combat, and the only button you use is ďAĒ to open doors, ď-Ē to get out your phone, and the stick to move your character.

Iíve played both the Wii and PS2 version of the game, and I can say without a doubt that the Wii version is the superior of the two. Why? I felt immersed in the world. I felt a connection to the character, as if I was the protagonist. My gestures from the right hand mirrored that on the screen to the point that I forgot I was even doing it Ė it felt as if I was putting no effort in playing the game. The PS2 version on the other hand, is very slow to respond and ruined the immersion for me.

Because of my financial situation I have opened up to the world of iPhone games; this world has opened my eyes to a number of deep and complex games using nothing but motion and touch screen buttons. Think of any genre and the app store has it. Now, Iím not going to lie, there are a number of games that are a pain to play, but the ones that arenít; are the ones to look out for.

I have played every genre from RPG to FPS on my iPhone. FPS and other "dual" stick games work just as well (or even better) on iOS as they do on the PSP or DS. Certainly, games that require precise controls are played better on the PSP or DS, but I think the PSP analog stick isn't much better than a virtual analog stick. The one positive I can think of is that an actual analog stick or D-pad can prevent your finger from moving off. RPG and adventure games often benefit from the touch screen on the iOS and they certainly donít come off any better on the PSP, DS, or any of the home consoles.

Speaking of home consoles, rumors are flying that Nintendoís new console will feature touch screen controls. If it were not for touch screen controls then my 62-year-old mother would have never have picked up gaming. Professor Layton, Brain Training, and the mini games in New Super Mario Bros. are the reason why my mother now enjoys gaming. She started with touch screen only games and worked her way up to beating Portal. While my mother did enjoy Portal, she did wish it controlled like some of the games on the Wii. Motion/touch screen gaming are so simple to use that it can open up an avenue to people who would have never picked up a controller. This avenue can lead to more people appreciating games. This same avenue can also bring financial success to any company.

Like I said before, the button and stick combo will never go away, but they will have to make room for touch screen, motion, and IR controls. I have no doubt that in the future we will be using less buttons, and more motion and virtual buttons for our home consoles. Whether you agree with me or not, you canít deny that the industry is moving toward this direction. The Wii, PS Move, and Kinect are all proof that we are moving toward a button-less controller. You can complain and cry all you want, but we must all open our hearts to this new form of playing.

CaptainBus states his case against the proposition:

25 years ago, examples of the platforms in play were the NES, the Master system and the ZX Spectrum. Games were controlled with sticks or pads, and a couple of buttons. The crucial aspect of gaming in titles such as Castlevania and Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a well realised world, maximising the technology available, and tight, progressive gameplay. The games of the time lived or died by responsive controls and immersion through association with the protagonist and the environment.

Fast forward to the present, and the principles are identical. The main differences are that processing power has improved, creating beautifully realised 3D worlds with cinematic atmosphere, and interfaces have evolved. The new controllers we use now have a plethora of buttons and a couple of sticks. Genres have expanded to incorporate space operas, psychological horror, westerns and noir detective thrillers. However, most control systems we use in gaming today are an evolution of previous design, not a revolution.

The ďnew control systems on the blockĒ, motion control and touch-screen technology, are not new. Motion controllers have been around since the Nintendo Power Glove 22 years ago and touch-screen controls have been used in ATMs for decades. The difference is that these controls are hot right now, but we must remember that time does not look favourably on the Power Glove and it is history, not fashion, that dictates the future.

Motion and touch-screen controls have shown their strength in games such asWii Sports and Angry Birds respectively, where the inputs suit the end product of more universal, casual experiences. However, for games that require deft precision; such as fighting, racing, simulation, arcade, adventure and shooter games, you need to be able to use at least some buttons or sticks so you can enact a reliable and instant response to your actions and precisely and efficiently navigate.

Itís no good having calibration issues if bullets are raining on your position or youíre doing 70mph leading up to a hairpin. Motion and touch-screen controls canít promise this wonít happen to you. Sticks and buttons can.

Without a button or stick of some description, the Wii remote and Playstation Move simply cannot work. Even the simplest games require a button to be pressed or a stick to be moved. That leaves Kinect, with its strict requirements on the environment of play and the focus on gesture based gaming which narrows the field of games which you can play before you need to throw a controller into the mix, and touch-screen phones, with mostly niche product that is mutually exclusive from the PC and console market. Evolutions of these systems will not jeopardise the reign of the button or the stick in gaming.

Sonyís Dualshock controller has been going strong for 13 years. That is not because Sony are too lazy to design a new controller; itís because the principle design works as well on the games we play today as they did 13 years ago.

Are you certain these principles wonít remain in 25 years time? Because even if you are slightly uncertain, you will need to admit that when we play games in 25 years, somethingís still gotta click.

Many thanks to VenusInFurs for his contribution.

Now, the ground rules for voting:

1. The users that set out the Debatoid (VenusInFurs and CaptainBus) are not eligible to vote. (we can guess where their allegiances lie)

2. Feel free to comment at any point before, during or after you have voted.

3. To vote, begin your comment VENUS or BUS depending on whether you support the proposition (VENUS) or you oppose the proposition (BUS). The rest of your comment can be used to, you know, comment.

4. Only comments that begin with VENUS or BUS may be considered in the voting process. Ensure you are spelling your vote correctly and placing it in capitals to make Debatoid happy.

5. One vote per user. Only your first vote will count; there are no do-overs. Do not spam the comments. Donít bully other users into voting your way. Letís keep it clean. Donít be a wang.

6. Your voting should be based on the strength of the arguments set out by the contenders. Though your opinion may go some way towards forming your decision, do try to be as impartial as you can muster.

7. Any failure to undertake these rules or any ambiguity surrounding your vote may damage the chance of your vote counting. Whether or not your vote ultimately counts is at Debatoid's discretion. Maximise your chances by voting correctly.

8. The vote total will be accumulated one week or so after the blog is released.

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