That Bygone Feeling: Controller Ergonomics and Nostalgia in Video Game Play

Nicholas David Bowman, John Velez, Tim Wulf, Johannes Breuer, Koji Yoshimura, Lindsey Jean Resignato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As gamers age, the classic and retro video game market grows in lockstep. Previous work has shown that myriad aspects of games, such as playing familiar franchises, seeing game consoles and trailers, or even thinking about past gameplay, can induce nostalgia. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, the current study looks to one off-screen element of video games inextricable from gaming experiences that might further contribute to (or hinder) nostalgia: video game controllers. Participants played Super Mario Bros. with either an original Nintendo Entertainment System controller, one of two different modern Nintendo controllers, or watched streamed gameplay. Controller type was mostly unrelated to nostalgia in quantitative analysis, with nominal variation in qualitative analysis. However, we did find that perceived in-game success predicted both personal and historical nostalgia, overall gaming experience predicted personal nostalgia, and younger gamers without Super Mario Bros. experience felt increased historical nostalgia. Research questions, study design, and data analyses were preregistered prior to data collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-158
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Popular Media
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 28 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • ergonomics
  • nostalgia
  • retro gaming
  • video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology


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