The Ergonomics of Handheld Gaming

Compared to the ergonomic evolution of Nintendo’s home console controllers, the handheld realm is really lacking. FatBits writes: “Let’s take a step back. These are handheld game machines. You hold them in your hand. How many years will it take before someone realizes that sharp-edged rectangular solids are not ideal for gripping?… Think hands, people. It’s all about the hands.”

Couldn’t agree more.


  1. ergonomics increase size and decrease portability. Attractiveness and a sleek, discrete appearance seem to matter more to consumers than molded handles shaped to fit the contours of their hands.

  2. Black Adonis — agreed.

    I don’t want an ergonomic DS. The new DS Lite will work just fine.

  3. The thing that you have to consider is that they are also portable systems, so a lot of the thinking is also about what goes in your pocket, and smooth flat things are a natural obvious choice, not the best one but probably the main reason that they’ve progressed less, that and the lack of true competition to the Game Boy line until the PSP. Consoles have always had more serious competition which I think led to some more innovative jumps, mostly fathered by Nintendo.

  4. this is retarded. these commenters are right – portability is more important than ergonomics when it comes to PORTABLE consoles. i’d much rather something small enough to slip into my pocket than something i could play for 5-10 hours straight without feeling cramps. i can comfortably play my ds for an hour or three, which is more than anyone would ever need to play one for. this is not a problem at all.

  5. I just had to look at my DS Lite, wonder for a sec, than think about the size of it. Small, just a little larger than a NES control pad. Size is what counts when it comes to portables. Look at the PSP, (kinda like an Atari Lynx)… Not my idea of portable.

  6. Well the thing with portables is you sacrifice ergonomics for smallness, not an ideal trade off but that’s the limitations of pockets. But I think given time companies will be able to come up with better handhelds for the hand.

    So far I reckon the best ergonomic progression was when the buttons went to the side of the screen rather then underneath.

  7. As obvious as the answer seems to be, the reg DS is a weapon. Some (anon) ppl need to stop defending the DS for faults it clearly has. As limiting as handhelds are to ergonomics, that thing is unforgiving. I’ve experienced a couple times where i just plain forgot how to hold the DS cause i couldn’t find a reasonably comfortable position. Other times it’d be that i couldn’t hold it well enough to control the game how i wanted to. Not to mention the 2-handed games that make those sharp edges dig into your palms and make your arm tingle cause it’s about to go numb.

    On the flip, the GBA was great. The Lite might be the best yet.

  8. look at the motorola Rzr. It’s as ergonomic as a paper bag and can even cut you if you grip it to hard. but its a best seller. Look at the Ipod. It’s a matter of style that rule in the portable world. ergonomics are so 90’s…

  9. I play my GBM more than any other system, simply because it is with me more often when I some free time to play. Portability rules.

  10. maybe its me but the only thing that bothered me about the original is lip that presses into you. the lite doesn’t seem to have a lip and the edges round at the base so it should feel just fine. i kinda still enjoy the feel of the old nes controller you can contour your finger over the top where there would be shoulder buttons for ds. not bad at all if you ask me.

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