Designer claims new video game controller could fix the industry

Three video game controllers in a row
Good luck finding the 'X' (Image credit: Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft/Future)

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 often alternate between consoles, you're no doubt all too familiar with one of the most common design complaints – there's just no consistency between those symbol 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'd better remember which console you're using at that particular time. But what if there was another 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, and claims it could "fix the game industry". Instead of the random assortment of letters and shapes thrown at us right now, it suggests adopting compass points: N, S, E and W.  Indeed, if this became a universal standard across all controllers, surely we could say goodbye to which-button-should-I-press confusion.

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"This is actually genius why hasn't any of the companies 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 co-ordinates as the word 'NEWS'. 

While it might seem trivial, button-gate is a pretty 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, this is a clear sign that things are just too complicated – for users of the three main consoles, finding the 'X' button to press can feel like a game in itself.

Video game UI

(Image credit: @spacetreasured on Twitter)

Still, there are plenty of strides being made in the world of game controllers – from Sony's wild new controller concept to Apple's smartphone controller design. Whether they'll ever find common ground in terms of symbols, however, is another matter entirely.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).