What is the History Behind the PlayStation Controller Button Shapes?

Posted on Jun 5 2019 - 3:06pm by Gaf Hussain

The PlayStation shapes are now synonymous to Sony’s aforementioned console. They have become iconic and at a time where all the competition were using letters, colours or numbers, Sony tried something different.

The controller and the shapes were designed by Teiyu Goto, they weren’t just shapes, they all had specific meaning:

X – No (switched for Western markets)

O – Yes (switched for Western markets)

Triangle – Viewpoint (or the direction the player was facing)

Square – Paper (referring to documents or a menu)

In an old interview, Goto was quoted in saying:

“Other game companies at the time assigned alphabet letters or colours to the buttons. We wanted something simple to remember, which is why we went with icons or symbols, and I came up with the triangle-circle-X-square combination immediately afterwards. I gave each symbol a meaning and a colour. The triangle refers to viewpoint; I had it represent one’s head or direction and made it green. Square refers to a piece of paper; I had it represent menus or documents and made it pink. The circle and X represent ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision-making and I made them red and blue respectively. People thought those colours were mixed up, and I had to reinforce to management that that’s what I wanted.”

Another interesting fact about the iconic controller is that it was 10% larger in the North American market, and during the design phase, Sony added a gram of weight at a time until they were satisfied that the controller felt nice to hold.

It is unlikely to see these shapes disappearing and the original controller was usurped by the newest iteration DualShock 4, we expect very little to change for the next generation PS5 controller.