Synchronized Button Press

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This is a proposed entry.
This entry is currently being proposed as a permanent part of the ontology. It should be considered a draft and not really part of the "official" ontology.


The player must press a series of buttons according to some (usually) visual indication. The button presses do not directly control any entity or group of entities in the game.

Dance Dance Revolution, and most other rhythm and action games, are good examples of this. However, the issue of direct/indirect manipulation is an important discriminator. For example, the dance game Space Channel 5 requires the player to press buttons at appropriate moments, however, the button presses map directly to the dance moves executed by the main character Ulala (another example can be seen in Bust-A-Move, known in the West as Bust-A-Groove). In this case, we would not say that Space Channel 5 is an example of Synchronized Button Press since the player is directly controlling the choreography of the main character.

Games whose cardinality of gameplay is 0-Dimensional, tend to favour this form of entity manipulation.

List of questions:

  • Are the synchronized button presses an indirect form of manipulation?
    • Do the buttons being pressed directly control the movement or manipulation of any in-game entities?
  • Is the cardinality of gameplay 0-Dimensional?
  • Does the player only have one "correct" action? (ie, press the button at the right time)


Strong Examples

Dance Dance Revolution

In Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), the player must press different combinations of four buttons in synchronization with groups of arrows that move up the screen. When an arrow overlaps a special marker at the top of the screen, the appropriate button must be pressed. (for example, up-arrow corresponds to up-button). The player doesn't directly control any entities in the game.

Guitar Hero

In Guitar Hero [RedOctane, 2005], the player uses a guitar-shaped controller to simulate playing a guitar. The player must press down buttons on the controller's fret board while simultaneously strumming the "strum bar" at the correct time for the music to play. If the player strums at the wrong time, or presses the wrong note, the music sounds bad and the player is penalized.

Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy)

In some sequences in Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy), two circles with four different colored elements appear on the screen (like in a Simon game) and the player needs to press the buttons corresponding to the flashing sections. The input doesn't have anything to do with the avatar here.


In Shenmue, there are certain moments in the game where the player has to perform "quick time events" (QTE) in which the player is required to press a certain button (or combination) within a certain period of time. The player is cued to the required button presses by a flashing symbol on the screen. These QTEs require a quick reaction time from the player who is not aware when they will be triggered. In this sense they are not quite the same as a synchronized button press.

Additionally, the button presses often result in the main character performing some sort of action. While the players button presses do result in certain actions being performed by the avatar, due to the fact that the player is not aware of what Ryu's actions will be , it is arguable that the player is not really controlling Ryu during these events. (also, the actions are different according to the particular event).

This example was debated in the discussion page.

Relations with other elements of the Ontology



  • None