Thoughts: CoD Auto-Aim and the Electric Steering Wheel

You’re being deceived each time you play Call of Duty. In most modern First Person Shooters aiming is at the control of the player…up to a point. Auto-aim is a component of modern, console based FPSs that is used to nudge your shot closer to a critical point on an enemy when your aim is close enough. But auto-aim introduces a disconnect between player actions and the resulting output of the game; while the player may have intended to hit a critical damage point on an enemy, the game reduces the skill level needed by guiding the player’s shot.

In a similar sense modern cars also exhibit a disconnect between the driver’s input to steering and the resulting tire turn output. Almost all modern cars have electric steering, which means that when you turn the steering wheel you’re actually just actuating an electric motor based on the rotation of the steering column. The electric signal produced by turning the wheel signals the on-board computer to push the hydraulics that adjust the tire orientation as needed to (roughly) match the amount the steering was rotated. What does all that mean? With the right electrical hookup you could use a PlayStation controller to steer your car, even a banana with proper wiring would work. But would you really want to steer with a banana?

There’s a case to be made that cars shouldn’t be made with electric steering: they reduce feedback from the road, it’s more difficult to sense if there’s an issue with the tires, and, frankly, “it just doesn’t feel right.” The same can be said of auto-aim: the joystick input you control as the player is corrected by the console and the output is often better for the operator than where it started. But a counter-argument can be made: joysticks just aren’t nearly as precise as a mouse (which may explain why the PC version of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has little to no aim assist while the console version has plenty).

So, which side are you on? Should auto-aim be banned in all instances? And how about the electric steering wheel?

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