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Scientists Are Investigating Why Some People Invert Their Controls

A Guardian article that detailed why players invert controls has captured the attention of two scientists, who are convening a study on the topic.


Inverted sticks are one of the biggest annoyances you can face when swapping off a controller with a friend, especially if you have to change the setting every time. But a relatively large proportion of players insist that an inverted Y axis simply feels more natural to them. Now, an article on the topic has attracted the scrutiny of two scientists, who say that they're seeking volunteers for a study that explores the topic.

This study was prompted by a Guardian article that explored the topic, with journalist Keith Stuart asking several scientists their opinion of the practice, including Dr. Jennifer Corbett of the Visual Perception and Attention Lab at Brunel University London. Dr. Corbett and a colleague have begun a study that looks into the science behind the practice--essentially, whether or not inverted sticks are simply a habit picked up at random, or a clear indication of a difference in cognitive function between certain groups. Notably, the PS5 allows players to set stick inversion on the system level, along with other options like difficulty settings.

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"Generally, we will be measuring how fast and accurately people are able to mentally rotate shapes and the extent to which they rely on different body and contextual cues when making spatial judgments," Corbett explained to The Guardian. "There are no right or wrong answers in these tasks--we're interested in how people might perform differently."

According to the follow-up article in the Guardian explaining the development, this study was prompted in part by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which prevents Dr. Corbett and her colleagues from pursuing traditional lab work. Corbett hopes that the study will help game designers optimize their controls for both inverters and non-inverters.

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