Have you ever one day – while doing the rounds on your PlayStation – stopped playing, looked at the controller, and wondered where those iconic face buttons came from? What they mean? Neither have I. Regardless, Teiyu Goto, a Sony engineer who created the design, has explained their meaning in a recent Japanese interview.
“Other game companies at the time assigned alphabet letters or colors to the buttons. We wanted something simple to remember, which is why we went with icons or symbols, and I came up with the triangle-circle-X-square combination immediately afterward. I gave each symbol a meaning and a color,” Goto explained.
“The triangle refers to viewpoint; I had it represent one’s head or direction and made it green. Square refers to a piece of paper; I had it represent menus or documents and made it pink. The circle and X represent ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision-making and I made them red and blue respectively. People thought those colors were mixed up, and I had to reinforce to management that that’s what I wanted.”
Goto also mentions that the higher-ups at the company wanted to keep the controller looking more like the SNES controller (see above). He fought their demands and they instead went with the controller we know now, handles and all.