Interview with the developer of PlayStation 3 Hardware

8 04 2008

Here is an interview with Teiyu Goto, who designed PLAYSTATION®3 and its peripherals, including a newly developed wireless controller.

The design concept of PLAYSTATION®3 was to create something worthy of its cutting edge technology. PLAYSTATION®3 can play a Blu-ray Disc, the next generation disc media, as well as HD-quality games that utilize the computing power of Cell Broadband Engine™, the PLAYSTATION®3 CPU. Thus, the design had to be sleek enough to reflect such high-end functions.

The PlayStation® series systems have always been the best game systems at the time when they were introduced. Thus, we pursued shapes that were easily distinguishable as “game machines”.

Meanwhile, the specifications for PLAYSTATION®3 have gone beyond what a game system was capable of. So, we decided to design something completely different from past products, to create something of high quality, with high specifications, all to perfection. Our ambition was to create the best, from a standpoint of both design and product planning.

Design Keywords for PLAYSTATION®3

In the past, there were various keywords that represented the design of PlayStation® . These keywords apply to the design of PLAYSTATION®3 as well.

When the original PlayStation® was designed in 1994, the keyword then was a new media type: CD-ROM. PlayStation® became a box with a round lid and two big, round buttons – a very simple design.
In 2000, the keywords of PlayStation®2 were “the universe, the earth and life”. The black slate color, the PS2 logo, and the blue graduation in the stand conjured up images of limitless life, from where new content such as DVDs and games would emerge.

For PLAYSTATION®3, we employed a curvilinear and glossy surface. This shape and material is rarely used for conventional electronic appliances. It is different from VCRs, DVD players (whose widths are usually 430 mm), or gaming systems. It represents a completely new concept.

The controller for PLAYSTATION®3 became wireless, making the system much simpler to use. Turning the system on and off can be done from the wireless controller. If the system is connected to TV, it is not necessary to place it next to the TV. Because it is not necessary to touch the controls to operate the system, it can be placed anywhere in a living room. Since all PLAYSTATION®3 have internal hard disk drives, we were able to hide the media slots from view. We designed PLAYSTATION®3 so that users can place it and use it as freely as they wish.
When we designed the machine, we considered high-rise buildings, vases, and other objects that have a strong physical presence and appear, sleek and new. Based on these images, we drew numerous sketches and made many mock-ups until we ended up with the present design.

The Controller Became Wireless

The innovative design of the original PlayStation® controller extends to the controllers for PlayStation®2 and PLAYSTATION®3. However, the inside has continuously evolved.

For PLAYSTATION®3 controller, the most evolutionary change was becoming wireless. There were various wireless game controllers previously, but some had a battery case that stuck out from the controller, while others were heavy. It was a burden to users, as they were difficult to grip, causing hands to tire easily. I must say they were not satisfactory from a users’ standpoint.

But recently, Bluetooth technology has become common. High performance batteries such as those used in mobile phones have become prevalent. We were able to adopt such technologies and pack them into this small controller for PLAYSTATION®3. Since the new controller is very light (even lighter than the conventional DUALSHOCK® analog controller) users can play games comfortably.
Taking advantage of the controller’s wireless feature, we adopted a six-axis sensing system to input motions such as roll and yaw. With a cable attached, it would be difficult to input a motion by tilting the controller. By acquiring wireless technology, play has evolved further.

Thanks to support from users, PlayStation® controller has become the standard for all game controllers. This controller is a part of a large product family, and is a precious asset, as it can be used to play both PlayStation® and PlayStation®2 games. Thus, it was important for us to carry forward the shape of the controller.

Prototype of PLAYSTATION®3 controller. All of the forms are slightly different.

Numerous small evolutions have also taken place. For example, operation of the L2/R2 buttons, used as a trigger or an accelerator in many games, was improved to provide more subtle control. We also increased the tilt angles of the analog sticks. This change provided users with more accurate control of left and right movements on a large screen.. We made various mock-ups to ensure greater accuracy for firmness and stroke.

We also modified the shape at the point where the middle fingers support the controller. Before then, there was a pocket to ensure that middle fingers would fit tightly. For the new controller, we shifted the grip toward the front and made it shallower to increase space for the middle fingers. It is a small change, but it gave the middle fingers enough space to move back and forth, allowing users to grip the controller more freely.

Also, we made the rear of the controller more curvilinear so that it will better fit the middle finger joints. Thus, the controller can be held within a wider area. When you hold it, you can immediately feel this difference. We improved the shape of the area where the middle finger supports the controller, so that supporting fingers are more comfortable when pushing buttons.

These changes are extremely small but they make a big difference if you play games for a long time.

Although the basic design of the controller has been identical for twelve years, we are continuing to improve the device to be more user-friendly.

About Designing PlayStation®

Japan, North America, Europe and Asia- Everybody around the globe enjoys PlayStation®.
What kind of experience does designing PlayStation® bring to a designer?

Sony has always produced products for the enjoyment of audio and video. But with PlayStation®, a new genre of entertainment emerged – interactive. As a designer, I was thrilled to be involved in developing this innovative genre of entertainment. In addition, the system features are of the highest quality. I believe that I am the only designer to work on a consumer product that has sold so many units globally, including audio and video products. It was such a great joy.

But there are great responsibilities, too. For example, a seemingly minor problem with a button would actually be a major issue, since the shipment quantity is enormous. Take the original PlayStation®, for example. It was designed to be rugged enough that, even when children sat on it, it would not be damaged. I think it is a designer’s job to create easy-to-use, long-lasting, and beautifully shaped devices, notwithstanding such restrictions.

It was also miraculous to design a controller with grips for the first time and introduce it to the world. There had been no grips in previous game controllers, so they were literally “game pads”. This was when we proposed a controller with grips to hold tightly with two hands. This form gained critical acclaim immediately and other companies followed this trend. PlayStation® controller has become the icon of game controllers. It was one of the greatest pleasures of my life as a designer.

To see this interview in it’s true form follow this link: http://www.playstation.com/ps3-design/english/hardware.html

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