Once we have decided what platform we are using, we must decide how our players will interact with the game. Game controls are the input of our video game. Our job is to determine the most appropriate control to deliver the intended experience.

The most common types of inputs for a video game are the following:

  • game controller (gamepad or joystick)
  • keyboard and mouse
  • touchscreen
  • real-world interface (steering wheel)

And many others.

Game Controller

A game controller is the most widely used input as it is the primary controller for all consoles and can also be used with a computer and a phone. This is an advantage because it is usually intuitive to use and relatively inexpensive. When designing a game for a console, this will likely be the input control of choice.

Keyboard and Mouse

A keyboard and mouse are the most commonly used input controls for PC games as they are readily available. Many gamers opt to use mice and keyboards designed explicitly for gaming. These can provide many options for gaming that standard keyboards and mice cannot. One disadvantage of a gaming keyboard and mouse is the cost can be a lot more than the standard options.


The touchscreen is the input control of choice for a mobile game as this is the standard way to interact with a phone or tablet. The touchscreen has created many new types of games where finger presses and swipes are the preferred types of control. When it comes to playing classic games requiring game controllers, the touchscreen can sometimes be more challenging and not the best choice.

Real-World Interface

Sometimes a game can be intended to give a more real-world feel. Therefore, some custom controllers can be designed specifically for certain games. For a flight simulator game, a player can purchase a setup that mimics a fully functioning flight deck, complete with all the controls that can be found in a real airplane. This can increase the player experience since it will seem like they are flying a real aircraft. However, this control setup can be pretty expensive!

As technology advances, so do game controllers. With virtual reality and augmented reality becoming more common, games designed in these realms will have new and innovative types of controls.


Click each tile to review the features of each controller type.

Move to the next exercise when ready.

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