Ever Wonder Why Game Controllers Have ABXY?

Sometimes as a gaming writer, I need to remember that not everybody has over 100 wins in Fortnite, and some people are just getting into the community and getting into gaming as a hobby. Maybe you are a Grand Champion rocket League player, and you are just trying to figure out why controllers use ABXY; either way, let’s get into it.

Gaming controllers need to use symbols to make the games interactive and for the gamer to have a reference as to what buttons to press. If it wasn’t for these symbols, starting any new game would be extremely difficult whether you are a pro or a noob.

As we do with all of our articles, we love to give you a short brief answer for those in a rush, but then, we like to dive deeper into the subject. We do this so that our readers can leave the article without having any further questions. Also, to be honest, topics like this have really juicy bits of information. So, for everything you need to know, keep reading.

What Do Game Controllers Do?

Ok, so before we even start with the symbols on a controller, maybe some of you are total gaming noobs, in which case, let me explain what controllers do. If you have a 3.0 KD on Call Of Duty and are definitely not a noob, skip this section if you wish. For now, though, let’s answer this question.

Gaming controllers act as an input device for gaming consoles and certain types of PC players who prefer using controllers over mouse and keyboard. In fact, there are a lot of games on PC that play better with the controller.

To break it down into its basics and simplify the answer, I think it is fair to say that a gaming controller is a medium in which the player commands the character to perform certain tasks.

Why Do Controllers Use Symbols?

Great stuff. Now that we have the basics of this article out of the way, we can now focus on what is important. The point of this article is to tell you why controllers use ABXY, and we will do that, but in this section, we are going to discuss why controllers need to have symbols on them.

The symbols on a controller are used not only as a way for gamers to easily remember controller inputs but also for developers to easily tell the players how to move forward in the game. Some games require timed inputs where a symbol flash on the screen, the buttons of a controller need to have the corresponding symbols so that the gamer knows what to press.

I might have made a slight mistake in answering the full question in one paragraph, but if we look at it like this, if the controller had no symbols, it would make gaming a lot more difficult, especially for new gamers. It would also give developers fewer ways of making their games interactive.

Why Does Playstation Use Square, Triangle, O, and X?

I know that sometimes these symbols can merely come across as just being random, but they aren’t actually random. This is especially true when it comes to PlayStation. Yep, the traditional Square, Triangle O, and X actually mean something. So, let’s jump straight into it.

When PlayStation, or should I say Sony, was designing the controller, they wanted each button to mean something beyond just a gamer’s reference. That is what we are going to take a look at the list below.

  • X and O: These two symbols stand for yes and no. This was more relevant in older games where you would often be given a choice in a game. With this choice, you can either approve or decline the request. This is actually still used today.
  • The Square represents the menus, and in older games, Square was the main menu button.
  • Triangle represents a viewpoint. In older racing games, Triangle was used to select your view.

Playstation Controller Triggers

Those buttons with the symbols on them are not just the only buttons that we have on controllers. We actually have more buttons on the back and a few others but let’s take a look at why we need to know about those buttons and what they do.

The buttons on the back of a PlayStation controller are known as triggers. They are easily labeled so that it makes it easier for the gamer. So, on the left-hand side, you have L1 and L2, and on the right, you have R1 and R2. All of this just means left and right.

These buttons are normally used in most racing games as you accelerate, brake, handbrake, and rearview mirror buttons. In first-person shooters, they are used as the aim, shoot, grenade, and secondary grenade buttons.

Why Does Xbox Use ABXY?

When it comes to the symbols on Xbox, it is slightly different than PlayStation. The reason why the buttons are labeled is different from how PlayStation came up with their symbols. So, we won’t be able to make a list, but we can answer why controllers, especially Xbox, use ABXY.

In the early days of Xbox, when it was just about to launch its first console, it had a partnership with another gaming company. This company was SEGA. They took a lot of the symbol inspiration from Sega itself, which is actually quite cool to know, especially if you are an older gamer.

Just a quick side note: I know that Sega has fallen away in terms of being competitive in the gaming market, but they are starting to be revitalized again, thanks to Microsoft. This is amazing, and hopefully, we will see a lot of the old SEGA classics getting a remaster in the future.

Xbox Controller Triggers

So, Xbox’s triggers might actually make a lot more sense to gamers, especially if they come into gaming with no experience.

The trigger layout for Xbox is also R and L for right and left, but the two top buttons end with the letter B for “button” and the lower buttons end with the letter T for “trigger.” So, you have RT, LT, RB, and LB.

3rd Party Controllers

Now, with the way advertising works, I am sure that, if you have ever searched for gaming consoles or controllers, you have probably been hit with a few advertisements for a few different types of controllers. Specifically, controllers like the Scuf and the Razer Raiju. These controllers have extra buttons, and we will take a quick look at that in this section.

On third-party controllers, you might notice that they have buttons right at the back of the controller, or, if you are holding the controller horizontally, these will be at the bottom. These controllers act as a combination of several inputs to make games easier for players who perform many tasks at a time.

Basically, they act like Macros. An example would be in COD. If you dropshot a lot, you could program one button to crouch and shoot at the same time. This will give you a huge advantage.

BONUS: Why Do PC Games Use WASD To Move Around Instead Of The Arrow Keys?

We decided to add this little bonus section for anyone who is still new to gaming and is considering using a mouse and keyboard, whether on console or PC. The question is, why do mouse and keyboard games use WASD as their input for moving around when the keyboard clearly has arrow keys already?

When gaming on a mouse and keyboard, you need to have one hand on the mouse and one for the keyboard. If you were to use the arrow keys for gaming, you might struggle to be able to press all the buttons around it. The WASD keys are centrally located to make reaching for any button easy and convenient.

Final “Inputs” lol

That brings us to the end of this article, and I hope that after reading it, you look at your controller in a little bit of a different way. I am not trying to make a controller a sentimental object, but I think it is nice to know the history behind why things are the way they are.

If you want to know anything more about gaming controllers and even third-party devices, feel free to go through our blog to find out more.

David Sacks

I have worked in the IT industry since 2011 and have been an avid gamer my whole life. My first consoles were the sega genesis and the Nintendo SNES. I play both console and PC games, I love both. I decided to become combine my passion for gaming with my passion for writing.

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