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Sony Designer Talks PlayStation, Controller Design

Sony Designer Talks PlayStation, Controller Design

August 26, 2010 | By Colette Bennett

August 26, 2010 | By Colette Bennett
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In a recent interview with Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, as translated by 1UP, veteran Sony designer Teiyu Goto reveals that he originally had to fight for the design of the PlayStation 1's grip controller -- and how Norio Ohga, Sony's president at the time, was one of his only supporters.

The console's design was ultimately left up to Goto, who said that while many looks were considered, in the end the simpler design won out, and the decision to go with it was fairly swift. However, the fight for the look of the controllers was another story.

While Sony management wanted a flat controller that echoed the Super Nintendo's design, Goto had other plans. His controller, which had grips, was met with negative management reviews and the design was nixed.

However, when Goto showed the flatter controller, he drew an angry reaction from president Ohga -- which pushed him to return to the now-iconic grip design, which shipped with the system in 1994.

Symbolism also played a role in the now-famous buttons on the Sony controller. Goto explained that the triangle symbol represented a viewpoint, while square referred to a piece of paper, and the circle and X buttons represented yes or no decisions.

The color choices were also questioned by Sony, but Goto pushed for them and they have remained the same since. (For the West, the circle and X buttons were reversed, which makes less sense given Goto's justification.)

Looking back, Goto says that he feels honored to have worked on the system's design. "Getting to use such simple symbols in a design is an extremely rare opportunity, and it was really a stroke of luck to me," he said.

"When you think of the Madonna in painting, most people come up with the same image of the same woman in their minds. In a similar way, the combination of those simple symbols has come to represent both the PlayStation and the fun of video games, and being able to communicate that is a great thing."


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