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Scientists investigate why some players use inverted controls

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The investigation could eventually help with spotting tumours

A group of scientists have started to investigate why some players use inverted controls while playing video games.

Inverting the controls involves tilting up on the analogue stick, which will move the camera – or whatever that stick controls – down, rather than up. It’s a technique most popular in flight sims such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, since it mimics the controls of a plane.

In February, The Guardian wrote that “there is very little research in this area” regarding inverted controls. Dr Jennifer Corbett, co-head of the Visual Perception and Attention Lab at Brunel University London has since begun investigating the science behind why some players decide to invert, along with colleague Dr Jaap Munneke.

Corbett and Munneke are now asking for volunteers to take part in experiments “running remote behavioural and psychophysical experiments”. These experiments will examine how “an individual’s visual perceptual abilities may affect how they interact with both real and virtual environments”.

The investigation will aim to uncover if a certain part of the brain is responsible for this decision, and whether it is linked to non-gaming behavioural changes.

Corbett also explained that this is an unusual experiment to work on, but that they have been forced to “pause regular EEG and eye-tracking experiments due to Covid”. This has led to a shift towards online experiments, such as those regarding controller inversion.

Corbett hopes the research will help with “safety-critical tasks like detecting weapons in baggage scans or tumours in X-rays”.

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