The Meaning of the PlayStation Button Symbols

November 3, 2010 at 1:00 am 9 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

We are surrounded by symbols and they’ve been around for a very long time.

In public places,  where people may speak many different languages, we often see symbols instead of words. Some examples include signs for bathrooms and restaurants and even many road signs.

In the West, we have a some common symbols in writing. Check marks often mean correct or yes and an X usually means incorrect or no.  In Japan, they have four symbols that are commonly used in surveys: X, Triangle, Circle and Double Circle (circle within circle). These four symbols make up a four point scale, although sometimes the double circle is omitted for a three point scale. The circle means good or satisfactory and the double circle means excellent. The X means no or bad. The triangle means average (or below average on the four point scale when the double circle is being used). These symbols are just as common as the checks and Xs in the West.

So, when Sony charged Teiyu Goto with designing the original PlayStation, he wanted the buttons to represent ideas rather than label them with arbitrary letters like everybody else. It didn’t take long for him to settle on the triangle, circle, X, square icons.

They were easy to remember because they were associated with meaning. The triangle represents a user’s viewpoint or perspective, making it a great button to launch maps or change the game perspective. The square represented a piece of paper, making it ideal for showing navigation lists and menus. The circle and the X mean yes and no, and they’re meant for navigating yes and no operations.

When asked about the impact of the design, Goto replied, “”Getting to use such simple symbols in a design is an extremely rare opportunity, and it was really a stroke of luck to me.”

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Sources: 1up, Japanese Translator

Entry filed under: Demystified, Entertainment, Gadgets and Toys. Tags: , , , , , , .

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9 Comments Add your own

  • [...] The Meaning of the Playstation Button Symbols « Broken Secrets [...]

    Reply
  • 2. cole  |  November 3, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Except.. the X is almost always the yes/affirmative button. -blinks-

    Reply
    • 3. Chad Upton  |  November 3, 2010 at 10:28 pm

      That’s true. Apparently, Sony management was also confused by the colors on X and Circle because the circle traditionally means Yes in Japan, but it was colored red, which is generally associated with a negative response. Teiyu Goto had to assure them that this was his intention since it seemed opposite. X is often used to mark or fill a box on paper in the West. It doesn’t necessarily mean “yes” but it does indicate a selection has been made.

      Reply
  • 4. John PS 3  |  November 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I never mention about this color. Thanks for your information, very enlighten me. Keep write bro !

    Reply
  • 5. Jubiraco  |  November 7, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Great article!

    Reply
  • 6. Izkata  |  January 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Yeah, except in the US, there’s “X marks the spot”, and is seen as the “yes” option.

    Plus I vaguely remember hearing that the X and the O switched places between the US and Japan releases of the console.

    Reply
    • 7. Steph  |  January 14, 2011 at 3:09 am

      I’m pretty sure they did. I can’t say for certain but my one friend told me that they were. The example being in America, X is yes O is no but on Nintendo, A is yes and B is no; A being where X is on the playstation, B being where O is.

      Makes sense though I don’t have any proof.

      Reply
  • 8. Mike  |  January 13, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    :-O

    And today I learn why circle was used for yes/accept in Final Fantasy VII.

    Reply
    • 9. willjs  |  August 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      And in Metal Gear Solid. That confused me when I first played it.

      Reply

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