Community Response

The Dreaded Hardcore Gamer Test: Do You Use Default or Inverted Controls?

Batman: Arkham Knight

Recently, Kayla had an interesting idea to conduct a little FemHype survey with both our writers and friends in the community. Her question: just how many people use default or inverted controls and why? When researching this topic (which I’d previously thought was fairly innocuous), the results prove that, yet again, gatekeeping culture seems to affirm that using inverted controls is “a huge annoyance” to the default crowd and that you should “never, ever [use] it when other people are around.” Cool. Because we absolutely need more reasons to divide the gaming community, especially when it comes to basic accessibility, right? Ugh.

So I turned to our lovely community on Tumblr first, putting the question to them in an informal poll just to get a sense of where everyone felt comfortable. As always, you had quite a few interesting responses to share!

princetpenguin: i think default? i like to aim up when i push up on the stick. tho i usually play fps type games w/ keyboard&mouse so it doesn’t come up much

ruumeysa: ahh inverted (just y axis btw) at some point i accidently changed it to inverted and got used to it, now i cant play without it -and some games dont have the option, makes me play like drunk

meganeburhapsody: I think that inverted can be really good for people who need a different scheme, but I tend to stick to Default personally.

rainbows-lets-plays-personal: Default. I look like a drunk monkey when I attempt inverted controls lol

supercellcomic: I feel like developers can’t agree on what “inverted” means tho

When I asked our assembled writing team what they thought about all this nerd hoopla, many elaborated further on why they might have gravitated to one particular use of controls before switching to another. For all you friends who are super into numbers that might be reading this, I compiled a final count at the bottom of the post to put this question to rest once and for all! (Just kidding. Play however you want and don’t let anyone shame you for it.)

Batman: Arkham Knight

Ellie

I’ve always played with default controls and honestly, never even considered trying out inverted controls. Instead, I was always kind of suspicious of what exactly would happen, and I was already having enough problems with using a controller, thank you very much. But I had a little go with inverting controls in a couple of games and I had a bit of an epiphany. An inverted y-axis is actually intuitive. When I was learning how to use a controller, I was really terrible; trying to coordinate my thumbs, two sticks, and the camera seemed pretty damned impossible to me. But I honestly believe that if I’d started out inverting the y-axis, I would have picked it up a lot faster. There’s something a lot more natural about it. I think it’s because the inverted thumb stick movement naturally mirrors your head movement. Pulling back on the stick is like you’re pulling your head back to look up.

But that’s about as far as my newfound enthusiasm for inverted controls go. Please don’t hold what I say next against me too much and just know that a lot of it comes from a place of frustration and too many deaths—inverting any other controls is, in a word, horrible. Inverting the x-axis made absolutely no sense to me and any kind of inverted strafing is just weird. I don’t understand it at all. It might just be that the default controls are ingrained in my mind, but I think I’d only ever seriously consider inverting the y-axis.

Heather O

I am a fan of default controls. When I have tried inverted controls, they simply didn’t feel natural and got in the way of my gameplay. It can take me a while to learn new controllers as they have plenty of buttons and such to try and memorize. The keyboard controls seem to fit my hand more and I have less trouble moving about and not dying. So I am definitely throwing my hat on the side of default.

 Kayla

I am one of those strange people who play with inverted controls. I have no idea where my preference comes from. I just know that the first time I sat down to play with an Xbox controller, I could barely aim at anything. At first I chalked it up to being new and just needing practice, but one of the friends I was playing with noticed how I was moving the joystick down to look up and vice versa. He suggested I try playing with inverted controls like he does, and suddenly I could actually hit things! The best way I can explain it is that I think of the joystick as being on the back of my character’s head, and so if I push up on it, they look down, and if I push down on it, they look up. My friends speculate that maybe my brain is just wired upside-down and love to tease me about it, because almost all of them play with default controls. I can’t imagine switching to default, because every time I try I end up feeling so disoriented and can’t aim at all. I would love to do some research on it and see if there is any correlation with other traits!

Megan E

I am on the default controls team. I can’t honestly say why that is, though. It just feels more natural, more “right” to me. Honestly, though, I don’t know how much that is really the case, and how much that has to do with the fact that it’s how I’ve always played games. It’s bad enough that games with normal inverted controls (like flying games) are nearly impossible for me to play unless I can switch them back. At this point I would say it would probably be impossible for me to switch over to inverted, I am just too used to it being one way.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Michelle B

I’m not sure I could honestly tell you which I use. I think the problem for me is that I only play FPS games on PC, because I just love the accuracy of the mouse. The last FPS I owned and actively played on a console was Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, and I’m pretty sure I used vertical inverted for that. I did, however, play a lot of flight games on consoles, and I always used inverted for those. For me though, games like Unreal Tournament, Elder Scrolls, etc. were always PC experiences. Besides, if you can’t play Chex Quest, the greatest FPS of all time, on a console, I say why bother?

In all seriousness, though, I did recently get a Japanese copy of King’s Field II. The King’s Field series is the vaguely obscure predecessor to Demon’s Soul/Dark Souls by From Software for the original Playstation 1 and 2. While the concept and style of the two series are similar, King’s Field plays from a FPS standpoint instead of third-person. So, maybe when I sit down with this game soon, I’ll figure out a definitive answer on whether or not to use inverted. Oh, and also, I think I used inverted on Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire on the N64 as well.

Murphy

I personally play with defaulted controls, always. I have a very hard time distinguishing directions in the real world, and it’s no different in the land of video games. With inverted controls, having to make the conscious effort to go “okay, left stick pans the camera right” and vice versa is too much for me. I have tried them before, though, and I suppose I can see the appeal behind them! What’s difficult for me may be far easier for someone else to manage, so I’m in no position to be bashing inverted controls or anything. In the long run, though, my preference for the default is unwavering.

Final Count:

Default: 16

Inverted: 9

Both (Gasp!): 3

+1 added to #TeamInverted for my own vote. What do you prefer using?

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5 thoughts on “The Dreaded Hardcore Gamer Test: Do You Use Default or Inverted Controls?”

  1. I was going to say that I always play default, but actually when I first got an Xbox I’d never used a controller before, and found the left joystick so frustrating I would remap movement to the D-pad. Seems crazy now. I don’t think I’d do well with inverted though, judging by my limited experience of flight games with inverted controls.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I first started playing FPSes, I was really confused by inverted controls, but after playing games with them, I can’t imagine playing comfortably without them anymore. That’s only for the Y-axis, though.

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  3. I think to some extent it’s an age thing, as a lot of the reason we have inverted controls is because of PC joysticks in the 80s and early 90s. Most PC joysticks evolved out of flight simulation games, where a joystick is inverted because of how airplanes work. Joysticks quickly became popular for all kinds of different games, as the PC gamepad wasn’t really a thing yet.

    However, when a game was in a first-person view, people were used to using their joystick inverted, and so many shooters adopted the same control defaults as flight games. Joysticks evolved into gamepads with thumbsticks, and most kids today don’t play flight games and learn on default (non-inverted) controls. But when I was a kid, inverted WAS the default. I just started playing a Star Wars game for PS1 that I found here in Japan, and I realized I can only play it properly inverted.

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  4. > Play however you want and don’t let anyone shame you for it.

    “Default” or “Inverted” are called like this just for some convention. If they were called Head-First and View-First would be more neutral, since there’s nothing “default” in one mode or the other.

    Years ago, I noticed that the kind of game that you played more determined how likely you were in Head-First or View-First mode. Even myself, when I played more flight simulators, ended up almost switching my preference. I’d have to check, but I think that right now I play flight simulators in one mode and first-person games in the other.

    It’s exactly the same thing as scrolling: if your mental model refers as “scrolling” as “moving the window”, then “up” means “move the window up”, so you move to see the content above. If your mental model refers as “scrolling” as “moving the page”, then “up” means “move the page up”, so you move to see the content below.

    There’s nothing wrong in either model, just slight preferences — all depends what’s the mental model your brain is using. In fact, as OSX switched scroll direction recently, I tried and it took around 1 week of normal use to switch.

    So much for defaults. 😉

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