I told Belghast from Tales of the Aggronaut yesterday that I really enjoyed his post about finding a controller that would suit someone who has big hands. Mostly because I suffer from the exact opposite. My hands are, by all standards, tiny. It comes with the total package of being only 1.60m (or 5f3in for my US friends) tall. I have a small shoe size and smaller than average hands. Just to draw an equation: My best friend’s daughter, who is only 7 years old, almost has as big hands as I do.
Having these tiny hands can be very handy in some situations but for someone who likes playing games, a lot, this has caused it’s share of issues over the years in finding what controller and mouse fit my hand nicely without feeling too uncomfortable.
I can honestly say that I’ve not yet found a controller that is truly comfortable to hold for me, but there are a few that come very, very close.
I’ve been a Playstation gamer since I was very young. Their dualshock controllers have therefore always made the most sense to me layout wise and I guess I trained my hands from a very young age to handle this specific controller. Is it completely comfortable for me to hold? No. However this comes closest to taking the cake. It’s one of the smaller controllers out there and ergonomically it’s pretty good to be holding for longer amounts of time. In it’s current incarnation I can reach all buttons, although I have some issues with using the touchpad itself. My thumbs sort of reach the lower bottom corners so I can press it when needed but when I need to use the navigational features I have to take one hand off the grip and navigate that way because my thumbs just don’t extend enough.
Any variation of the Dualshock usually turns out bigger and bulkier and as such I never bought anything else to play with, with the so called “Pro” controllers being completely unusable for me. I currently own two Dualshock Controllers. One that came with my Original PS4 and one that I bought on sale a few years back so that I always have one to use while the other one charges. They’re very sturdy and I think they will serve me well for a few more years atleast.
The Nintendo Switch Joycons
Surprisingly, I really enjoy handling the Nintendo Switch Joycons. I guess this stems from the fact that the Switch has been partly developed to be handled by children and as such the Joycons are pretty small by any standard. I actually really enjoy just taking the Joycons off the Switch and play with holding one of them in each hand. They fit snugly and I can easily reach all the buttons. And even though I show them in the picture with the wrist straps attached I actually prefer playing without those. It’s kind of a shame that Joycons are so ridiculously expensive, €75-80 for a pair. I currently own two pairs. The pair pictured here and the neon blue/red ones that came with my Switch when I bought it.
Compared to the Dualshock the Joycons do feel way more fragile and “cheap” in a way, but then again they are much smaller and still hold all that technology to make them work. For me the small and flat shape of the Joycons is ideal atleast and I have no issues playing for hours with them. I even want to go as far as to say that these are the best controllers Nintendo has made for me so far since the NES/SNES area where controllers were still much smaller. And even back then the NES/SNES controllers were inferior to the SEGA Mega drive (Genesis in the US) controller for my tiny kid hands since the Genesis controller was curved whereas the NES controllers were square bricks and the SNES controllers just made no sense to my kid brain. And as far as the rest of Nintendo contraptions go.. Let’s just say I’m happy that they went with Joycons.
I think the only downside to the Joycons is that they’re miss a bit of grip on the backside of them. If they had a place where I could comfortably rest my fingers they would most definitely take the top spot for me.
And I think for me the list ends here with controllers that I actually use without feeling like my hands cramp up from having to hold them for a longer amount of time. It may be a bit dull but I’ve not really owned many different types of consoles and thus controllers in my lifetime. I was always a handheld gamer, which was pretty nice for someone with small hands. Even there I notice that I can’t really use some handhelds properly though. When I was a kid I got a Gameboy Pocket because the bigger original Gameboy was just way too bulky to hold. I’ve always owned the smaller versions of the Nintendo handheld lines and even though my “main” handheld is a 3DS XL right now it’s actually a bit too big to fit my hands properly and as result I can’t play with it for very long before my hands get tired from holding it.
There’s two more controllers that I can handle okay, but that I don’t really feel belong on this list, and that’s the Switch Pro controller and the Wii-U Pro controller. They’re both slightly too big for my hands, for instance on the Wii-U controller I can’t really reach the Home button well but ergonomically they do work, with the button layout on the Wii-U one being a bit more sensible to me.
And for all other controllers out there.. I’m sure I’ve not tested enough to really form an opinion. There is however one controller that is just a HUGE no for me.. And that’s the XBOX one. Sorry Microsoft.
I own a wired 360 controller that I bought before I got my PS4 to play games with a controller on my PC. I managed to make it work but ever since I got my PS4 I switched to the Dualshock and basically chucked that controller into a corner and never looked back. The layout is horrible for my hands. The controller is too big and just so unwieldy for me to hold, I really don’t enjoy playing anything with it at all. This has been true for all incarnations of the XBOX controllers and I don’t think that will change anytime soon.
All in all I feel the scope of controllers for people with small hands is rather limited. I know that in the PC gaming world they’ve developed some mice for women, which are smaller, but maybe the console world should start looking into this aswell. Not all gamers are men and there are some of us out there that could do with smaller and less weighty controllers that are easier to wield. I think Google has tried to make an effort with their Stadia controller, which they designed with smaller hands in mind aswell so they can appeal to a larger audience. Unfortunately I don’t think I will ever get to test that controller since I don’t ever plan to subscribe to Stadia but atleast there’s one company making an effort.
So if any representative from Nintendo, Playstation or Microsoft happens to come across this post, design a controller for small hands! You have so many women and girls that play your consoles and I for one would be so happy to own a controller that is truly nice to hold, where I can actually reach all the buttons and that isn’t heavy after an hour of play.