One thumb game – Zurai and extending functionality of one button devices

Over on Kotaku there is video of a mobile XNA game called Zurai that can be played with one thumb.

What makes this more accessible is that the players’ ship automatically fires its weapons. The player uses their thumb to move the ship around the screen, aiming at and avoiding enemies.

This made me ask myself if there’s a need to classify some games as one button (pressing the button) and others are one thumb (moving the button). I realized that an analog stick on a controller is still a button. Only differences are what you can do with that button. It then becomes a question of, how many different ways can we manipulate a one button device? Push, pull, move, speak into it, blow air on it… anything else?

A sword fighting game could be made accessible with a device that allowed someone to push, pull and move a single button. Think of the old 2D Prince of Persia games. In this video of Prince of Persia 2 you’ll see the player run left or right, jump left or right, duck and crawl left or right, swing sword to attack enemies and use the sword to block attacks. That’s large number of actions the player can perform compared to most one button games, yet with a one button device that allows moving it in all directions, pushing and pulling it, all of the player actions I listed are possible. To move left, players move the one button to the left. To jump as they are moving left they can pull on the one button. When an enemy gets near, the player automatically draws their sword. When the button is pressed, the player attacks and when pulled they defend/block.

I don’t know about you, but I’d play that.

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