Click "Sleep" for a dark background.
Click "sleep" again if text isn't dark.



An Examination of Skill pt.7

Dexterity is a part of every video game we can get our hands on. To give you a better idea how each facet of dexterity can influence game design, I pulled together this list. 
Tetris with more dexterity!


  • Mario Party Fly Guy. This mini game tests how many times you can rotate the stick in 10 seconds.
  • Meta Gear torture scenes. Mash the action button to stay alive or it's game over.
  • RE4 Running from the Salazar Statue. Like so many QTE (quick time events) in RE4 and RE5, players have to mash the indicated button to survive. 
  • Super Smash Brothers Brawl: Ness low tilt. Pikachu jab. Pit's angle ring. Waking up from a Shield break. Breaking out of grabs. Smash DIng multi hitting attacks. This game is filled with techniques that require high speed dexterity to make effective.
  • Mega Man M Buster. Mega Man's default gun has always been one of his most powerful weapons. In the classic NES games especially, Mega Man is limited to 3 shots on the screen at once. So, if you're close enough to a target and you have high speed dexterity, you can tear through enemies with high health in a matter of moments. 
  • Perfect Dark Pistols. The pistols in PD are some of my favorite weapons in the game. Firing with the Z button on the N64 controller is very similar to pulling the trigger on a real gun (nerf or otherwise). With the pistols every squeeze shoots a bullet. The faster you press the button, the more deadly you become. I found that I could hold my own against sub machine guns using a pistol.
  • StarCraft APM. Though i'm not sure exactly how APM (Actions Per Minute) are measured between SC1 and SC2, I do know that the more clicks you make the higher your APM. I watched a match of SC2 where a Korean player's APM spiked to 350! Just think about how quick his finger must be. 



Most games don't feature inputs that emphasis strength dexterity because traditional controllers simply aren't designed for it. The on/off buttons, analog sticks, touch screens, and mouse controls dominate gaming. Fortunately, this generation has motion control, which gives designers an opportunity to do more with dexterity than ever before. 

  • Boom Blox. The strength of your pitch is determined by the force of your motion. You have to put a bit of muscle behind your technique if you want a hard throw. 
  • Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. Every game in Wii Sports supports motions of varying strengths. Tennis Swings. Base Ball Swings. Golf Swings. Bowling Ball bowls. Boxing jabs. Beyond Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort only adds more examples.
  • Wii Fit. Using one of the most sophisticated electric scales on the mass market, this entire game is designed to test the player's ability to manipulate their body/weight being exerted on the balance board. 
  • Drebin#1#2. Remember this game I made a while back? Without putting some muscle behind your sword strikes, you'll never beat your opponents. In fact this simple game requires a high level of all the facets of dexterity skill. 



  • MGS4 Snake in the corridor. *spoiler.* At the end of MGS4 players have to guide the aging Snake down a torture corridor of sorts. Rapid button presses are the only thing that will keep Snake going. This scene is long, and you're bound to be exhausted by the end.
  • Very long Guitar Hero songs. Some Guitar Hero songs are very long and very taxing on the fingers. One's endurance is measured with songs like Through the Fire and Flames.
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. The best way to experience this platforming game is with the bongo controller. Beating up bad guys and traversing the level will give your arms some exercise. But you might be completely tired out if you put your all into the special bonus stages. Rapidly hitting the bongos for 20 seconds plus will test your stamina. 
  • Wii Fit Jogging. Put the Wiimote in your back pocket and start jogging in place. When you select a 30 minute run, expect to run for 30 minutes. Stamina is a must, but an even pace will net the highest score. 



  • Super Monkey Ball Series. This game takes full advantage of my favorite analog stick, the GameCube controller analog stick. Hit A to start each level in the main game and from there it's all stick control. From fast jerky movements to the slightest touches, the levels are designed to test and reward different levels of dexterity control as you guide your monkey ball to the goal. 
  • Aiming with any analog stick/mouse. Keeping an aiming reticle on small moving targets while moving takes a lot of control. Though many champion mouse superiority for FPS control, analog sticks are capable of a comparatively high degree of control. My personal favorite is using the touch screen FPS aiming in Metroid Prime Hunters. The DS touch screen provides a similar degree of control as a mouse, but it uses different muscles groups. I find that I can control much better using the fine motor control of my thumb rather than a mouse.
  • Analog movement with an analog stick/touch screen. A quick list of games with excellent analog movement:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks.
    • Super Mario 64/Sunshine/Galaxy 1 & 2. 
    • Super Smash Brothers Melee/Brawl.
    • Kirby Canvas Curse.
    • Osu Tatakae Ouendan/ Elite Beat Agents
  • Analog motion controls. Kirby's Tilt 'n' Tumble. Almost every game in Wii Fit. Lotus Focus especially tests one's ability to sit still and control breathing. Wii Sports Resort Archery. 



  • The Typing of the Dead. Typing words quickly requires a level of harmony between each finger and between hands. Certain words can push your hands out of their home row position which causes a ripple effect influencing the resulting typing. 
  • Strings of inputs. In Smash Brothers, wave sliding and executing other advanced techniques requires a level of coordination or harmony between fingers. Many fighting games, including Street Fighter 4, test harmony with combo strings
  • Wii Fit game. Every game that uses the balance board turns your body into a giant controller. Swing your hips out too far or bend your knees too much and you can throw yourself completely off balance. Having a full body awareness and understanding how one motion affects the balance and position of the rest of the body is a factor of harmony. 



Efficiency is hard to measure for games that don't stress stamina and strength dexterity skills. Because games that stress such skills are rare efficiency isn't typically a huge factor. In other words, because the average gamer can manipulate buttons, sticks, keyboards, mice, and touch screens for hours on end there's not much of a point refining the motions of general play. 

On a smaller scale making inputs more efficient is something dedicated gamers do all the time to improve their game. Just check out this video discussing arcade pad grips. Efficiency can be linked to all the other facets of dexterity skill. Often times, at the limits of the other facets efficiency drops.


In part 8 of this series, I'll unveil the next game from B.E.S. 

« An Examination of Skill pt.8 | Main | An Examination of Skill pt.6 »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>