Over the years there have been a wide variety of home consoles each with their own (mostly) unique controller designs1. One thing that most consoles have in common is their use of beginning / ending alphanumeric characters. The most obvious exception is the various Playstation controller iterations which have made use of shapes instead of characters. To my knowledge the use of alphanumeric characters began with the Nintendo Entertainment System2.
I would imagine that in the early 80s a usability study was not done to determine if an A / B button label combination made the most sense. The continued use of beginning alphanumeric characters can therefore be explained by tradition or because someone did a usability study showing alphanumeric button labels cause the least cognitive friction.
Which brings me to my questions:
- Has such a usability study been performed?
- Does an analysis of the reasoning behind button labels exist?
- Has the use of alphanumeric characters been explained outside of a usability study?
1 Looking at you Playstation 1
2 I could be wrong please comment if I am.
Controller Reference Images