In pretty much every role-playing video game, you are given the option to invert the Y-Axis for the analogue stick on the controller. The majority of people play without inverting the Y-Axis, so this is usually the default option in games, with the option to invert the Y-Axis usually being hidden in the ‘Controller Settings’ menu.
Despite it’s presence in most games, anyone who picks up someone else’s controller in a game, only to find that they have or haven’t inverted the Y-Axis like they are used to, will no doubt feel like they are learning to play for the first time all over again! As an inverted Y-Axis player, if I play a game where the previous person has not inverted the Y-Axis, I feel like how I imagine left handed people feel in every other aspect of life – trying to force my hands to do something that I’m not used to them doing. It’s like those left-handed safety scissors that they used to have in primary school – just try cutting in a straight line with a pair of those if you’re right-handed!
So what’s this Y-Axis stuff all about then? Well, let me try and explain…
A non-inverted Y-Axis is effectively like positioning the joystick between the character’s eyes, inside their head. Pulling the stick down/backwards (towards the player holding the controller) tilts the character’s head down towards their chest, which focuses their vision downwards, and pushing the stick forwards (away from the player) tilts their head back and chin upwards, which focuses their vision upwards.
Conversely, an inverted Y-Axis effectively positions the joystick on top of the character’s head. Pushing the stick forwards (away from the player) tilts the character’s head down towards their chest, which focuses their vision downwards, and pulling the stick backwards (towards the player) tilts their head back, which focuses their vision upwards.
The effect of picking one of these settings over the other could be likened to the act of playing with dolls versus role playing. Those playing with an inverted Y-Axis are manipulating the head of the character on the screen as though they were holding a doll and tilting the doll’s head to allow their doll to see around a corner, for example. Those playing with a non-inverted Y-Axis are playing the game as if they themselves are the character, moving the character’s head on-screen as they would move their head if they were in that character’s position – pulling the stick down to focus their eyes/head downwards and pushing the stick up to focus upwards.
I wonder if people who don’t invert the Y-Axis in games have a more immersive playing experience playing first-person games because they are simulating actually being that character themselves, whereas those who invert the Inverted Y-Axis players are simulating controlling that character like a doll. Or perhaps the Y-Axis people have a better experience of the storytelling aspect of the game, being able to extract themselves from the main character more easily than the non-inverted Y-Axis players, for a more in-depth understanding of the wider story as a whole.
You could say that one style suits a certain type of game over another type, but in the end I think it’s down to your personal preference, and what you feel most comfortable playing with.