Touchscreens vs. traditional controllers in handheld gaming
We present a study which compares touchscreen-based controls and physical controls for game input using Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles. Our study used the Apple iPhone as a representative touchscreen-based controller and the Nintendo DS for its physical control pad. Participants completed a game level four times on each platform. Level completion time and number of player deaths were recorded. Results indicate that physical buttons allowed significantly better performance than virtual buttons. Specifically, the number of character deaths on the iPhone was 150% higher than on the DS, while level completion time on the DS was 42% faster. The learning curve for the touchscreen version of the game was also steeper. Participants strongly preferred the physical buttons of the Nintendo DS. We conclude that either game designers should consider alternative input methods for touchscreen devices, or hardware designers should consider the inclusion of physical controls.