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  • Game Design Challenge: DualShock 4

    - Danny Cowan
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Every other Wednesday we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have two weeks to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). After the two week submission period elapses, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted.

    The Challenge

    Design a game built around the functionality of the PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 controller.

    Assignment Details

    Last week, amid swirling rumors and speculation, Sony announced its next PlayStation console. While many specifics regarding the PlayStation 4's hardware are still unknown, the console's DualShock 4 controller was showcased in great detail during Sony's two-hour press conference.

    The DualShock 4 retains the familiar shape and button layout of its predecessors, but offers a number of refinements. The Start and Select buttons are nixed in favor of a consolidated Options button, and a Share button has been added, giving players the ability to record, play back, and livestream gameplay in real-time.

    The new controller's most striking feature is a two-point capacitative touch pad located where the Start and Select buttons were found on previous DualShock models. A small speaker that is able to emit sound effects during gameplay has also been added.

    Another key addition is a light bar on the back of the controller. According to Sony, the light bar's LED will illuminate in various colors in order to identify players, match in-game actions, and indicate changes during gameplay, such as when a character has taken damage.

    The light bar interacts with a second peripheral: a dual camera that senses environmental depth and tracks the DualShock 4's movement. The new camera offers four microphones, and supports the PlayStation Move peripheral.

    That's a lot to take in, but you should weigh these options carefully, as your task for our latest Game Design Challenge is to design a game that takes advantage of the DualShock 4's unique features.

    Note that you don't necessarily have to incorporate every aspect of the controller in your design. If one particular feature inspires you, you may build your game around that aspect. Consider these questions, if you need help getting started:

    - How does gameplay benefit from using the touch pad?
    - How will the light bar reflect actions within your game?
    - Can you design a game that uses the built-in speaker effectively?

    Also bear in mind that the DualShock 4 includes a six-axis sensor for motion-controlled gaming, along with force feedback (rumble) functionality. These features aren't new, but if you can combine them with the DualShock 4's unique aspects, the result could be something truly special.

    To Submit

    Work on your ideas, figure out your strategy for coming up with a solution, and ask questions on the forums. When your submission is complete, send it to with the subject line "Design Challenge: DualShock 4." Please type your answer directly in the email body -- do not submit .pdf or Word documents.

    Submissions should be no more than 500 words and may contain up to three images. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

    Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, March 13.

    Results will be posted Tuesday, March 19.

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.


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