Just like Mike Gundy, I'm a man and I'm 40; and my fingers are not as nimble as they used to be.
This can be quite a problem when it comes to playing my favorite sports video games. As I have grown older and moved from the more simplistic gaming systems like the Atari to the much more intricate current generation consoles, it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to control the action on the cyber field.
Some of my troubles have to do with my advancing age -- the reflexes aren’t quite at the level of my 20-year-old self. Some, though, has to do with the more and more complicated control schemes for these games.
When you require the speed and dexterity of Lt. Cmdr. Data to call an audible or a hot route in Madden, or to simply call an offensive play in NBA 2K12, then there is a deeper issue.
Have sports video game controls became too complicated for their own good? Let’s take a look.
What happened to this kind of awesomeness?
Older Doesn’t Mean Easier
Those old enough to remember Tecmo Bowl (or those who gave Tecmo Bowl Throwback a whirl recently) can agree that the control scheme can be clunky and difficult, especially when it comes to completing a pass.
To target a receiver, you are required to cycle through the eligible targets from the top of the screen to the bottom before letting a pass fly. Even in my younger days, this could be a bit frustrating.
However, that was one of the best control schemes in these formative years of sports video games. Other football games opted for cursor passing, which was ridiculously cumbersome.
It wasn’t until Madden on the Sega Genesis arrived that we were blessed with passing windows and suddenly it was as easy to sling the cyber pigskin to any receiver we desired.
A Mixed Bag
Baseball games of yesteryear, though, were easier on the thumbs, especially when it came to pitching.
There were no meters. There were no exaggerated swirls of the stick to produce a curveball. All you had to do was point your cursor at a spot in the strike zone and press a button. No muss. No fuss. The pitcher’s ratings took over. If he was a bum, he got slapped around the yard like one. If he was a stud, he painted the corners like a pitching Picasso. It didn’t matter how smooth you were on the sticks or how quick you were on the button mash in the green zone of the meter. Roger Clemens pitched like a ‘roided-up Roger Clemens. Jose Lima pitched like a whacked out homer-serving scrub.
It hasn’t been all bad. The Wii and its Wiimote has given us unparalleled control over our cyber swing on the golf course in the Tiger Woods titles and the spin on our bowling ball in Wii Sports. Even the controls for NHL 12 are intuitive and sublime.
Still, sports video games are trending toward the elaborate, which is not necessarily a good thing.
You shouldn't need what seems like this to operate sports games today.
The KISS Principle
Game developers should start to listen to KISS, not the rock band, but the principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
I am aggravated to no end at the NBA 2K series. Every year I am determined to call set plays, only to abandon that strategy as my cyber point guard dribbles in place as I fumble through the play-call menu.
I am also at a loss in Madden to call hot routes for my defense. I usually fumble more than JaMarcus Russell. In MLB: The Show, I ignore the guess pitch and power swing feature because I’m pretty sure Prince Fielder doesn’t wait for a tiny red dot to appear in the strike zone telling him where to power swing. The fewer finger gymnastics I need to complete, the better.
I’m sure my views are not the norm and I come across like a bitter gaming curmudgeon. I happen to think, though, that we can get much more enjoyment out of games that didn’t try to map a maneuver to every single button and stick on our controller.
Have sports video game controls become too complicated for their own good? I think, save a few exceptions, that they have.
Are game controls too complicated?