In which fun is hurty

In general, I’ve been really pleased with the PS5 so far. I’m enjoying the hell out of the Demon’s Souls remake, the new Spider-Man game hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet but I’m expecting to really like it, and I keep discovering new little quality-of-life details that I enjoy, like the fact that it notices and puts itself to sleep if I turn off the TV. It loads games so quickly that it’s honestly kind of ridiculous. I can sit down in the rocking chair I use to play in and be playing a game like twenty seconds later. All of that is great.

The new controller is exactly the wrong size, and it’s the wrong size in a way I didn’t notice until today. I love all the programming touches– the new haptics are awesome, the use of audio is fantastic at least the way it’s done in Demon’s Souls— things like sword swings and hit noises come from the controller as well as the TV and the end result is a lot more immersive. But it’s the wrong Goddamned size, and it’s potentially going to be a problem for me going forward.

This is the PS4 controller:

And yeah! At least on the outside, other than the colors they look damn near identical. But if you compare this to the new PS5 controller above, you’ll notice that the grips are just slightly more rounded on the outside, and I think the triggers, which you mostly can’t see, are positioned slightly differently as well. And while I haven’t measured to check, and I don’t see a lot of difference in the pictures, the four buttons on the right and particularly the circle button feel like they might be positioned slightly farther apart on the PS5 than they are on the PS4. That flat circle they’re set into rather than the slightly more curved surface on the PS5 might be making a difference too.

At any rate, the cumulative effect of the exact size of my hands and what is admittedly a small handful of tiny changes forces my right thumb into a weird position. I have spent maybe an hour today playing– probably not even that long– and I tell you right now that my thumb hurts, right at the joint where it attaches to my hand. I’m willing to believe that the control layout of Demon’s Souls isn’t helping– the two triggers on the right side are mapped to attacks so they get used all of the time, and I think it’s the combination of keeping my index and middle fingers on the triggers (or my index finger moving back and forth) and my thumb on the face buttons and the thumbstick that is causing the problem. I think if I wasn’t using the triggers as often it might not be as much of an issue.

Obviously it’s possible that I’ll get used to it, and I’ll limit my playtime until I know whether that’s going to be the case; if it gets better, we’re all good, and if it doesn’t, the fact that the PS5 currently doesn’t have any 3rd party controllers is going to become an issue. My ability to type is a lot more important than my ability to play video games, and I’m not about to start fucking with my hands. So, uh, “keep fingers crossed” might not really be the best available expression of well-wishes here, but if you don’t mind doing something on my behalf– ask Jesus or something, I dunno– I’d appreciate it.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.