As both an avid musician and video gamer, I noticed the effectiveness of a certain popular device as an interface. The game Rock Band (developed by Harmonix) allows four players to mime their way through a diverse array of songs, and this franchise introduced a drum set controller as part of enhancing the realism. Previous games in this style only had guitar controllers, so the developers of Rock Band were venturing into largely unknown territory. Their first model was met with mixed reviews due to materials used and sturdiness. As Norman mentions in The Design of Everyday Things, feedback, affordance, constraint, and mapping are the four essential aspects of any design (Norman xiv). Unfortunately, the first model lacked in feedback due to the use of hard plastic. No bounce came from hitting the pads, but rather a stiff response. In addition, a loud and unpleasant sound often muffled the game’s audio. With Rock Band 2, the next installment in the series, Harmonix decided to improve their design tenfold.
Mapping is simple and user-friendly: the set has four color-coordinated pads and a kick pedal (also color-coordinated) that correspond to the notes displayed on screen.
Affordance, however, is where this kit becomes a bit problematic. According to Norman, affordances are aspects of a design that cue the user into the object’s intended use (Norman 9). In order to navigate the menus, one must either cumbersomely use the pads or stick to the little control section. As seen below, this section of the Rock Band 2 controller does have four buttons (A, B, X, Y), an Xbox Guide button, and a D-Pad, but its lack of color coordination with the traditional 360 controller leaves much to be desired.