After getting into a small discussion over at 10-hit Combo on the lack of a rumble in the PS3 controller, I started to wonder if rumble is really all that useful. Does having your controller vibrate at certain points in a game make the game better, or are we lying to ourselves, making it seem more interesting than it really is?
After much mental and spiritual discovery, I came to the realization that it probably depends on the game. For FPS’s, I really need a rumble. If I don’t feel the controller shake when I pull that trigger, I cannot connect emotionally with a game. The rumble for me is the closest thing I can get to actually “feeling” a game. I can attain a higher level of immersion in a game with a rumble feature than I could if it didn’t include it. If I saw a huge explosion, but felt nothing from it, then the game would get very boring for me. It’s like going to the movies and feeling the surge of bass when an explosion occurs. That’s the way you feel a movie, and a rumble pack simulates that.
Driving simulators like Gran Turismo also benefit from a rumble. If you go into a curve at high speeds with a fairly heavy car, your car is going to shake like crazy because of all the force that’s being subjected to it, just like in real life. And you can only experience this phenomenon in a video game with the support of a rumble pack. This actually aids you in learning to drive in the game. The rumble pack tells you that you went into that curve way too fast, making you think about how to correct it. In this sense, the rumble is used as a teaching tool in the game.
Of course, I can’t imagine an RTS or a text adventure game really needing rumble. So it does depend on the game whether or not rumble is a useful feature.
If it was me though, I would have kept the rumble feature in the PS3 controller. Even though there are a few games that don’t need rumble, it doesn’t mean that every game doesn’t need it. We certainly don’t need it for Go! Sudoku, but what about Resistance: Fall of Man?