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Knack Devs Created PS4 Jumbo Controller To See How Kids Play

by Jeff Cork on Jul 10, 2013 at 05:11 AM

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Veteran game designer Mark Cerny, who's also lead architect on the PlayStation 4's hardware, says he faced a decision in 2008. Should he continue to develop games or focus solely on hardware design? He decided to do both. Speaking at Develop Brighton, Cerny outlined his experience in working on the PS4 game Knack, which included a specially designed controller.

As Cerny explains in the video below, he approached Akira Sato, former chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment with the question of continuing game development. Sato told him that his experience as a designer made him more desirable, and that it also would give him more practical experience he could use when working with other developers. Cerny decided he wanted to work on a game that both casual and hard-core players could enjoy, and Knack was born.

One of the major challenges Cerny says he faced was the controller itself. He says kids are capable of playing action games, but the controller is often an obstacle. In addition to the multitude of buttons, the size can get in the way. Cerny and his team made a mock PS4 controller scaled 50 percent larger than the usual one to see what controls feel like to an 8-year-old. They immediately learned that while the face buttons didn't pose any problems, the shoulder buttons and triggers were too difficult for their small fingers to reach. Armed with that info, his team set out to design Knack with controls that would work for kids and adults.

[Source: Develop, image via Shuhei Yoshida]


Our Take
Building a jumbo controller was a clever way for adult developers to remind themselves what it was like to have smaller hands. Here's hoping that it doesn't end there. Accessibility should be something that's at least considered during development of every game.