Sad: The Elderly Dutch Man Who Inspired The ‘X’ Button On The PlayStation Controller Has Passed Away

Illustration for article titled Sad: The Elderly Dutch Man Who Inspired The ‘X’ Button On The PlayStation Controller Has Passed Away

Gamers, it’s time to pay our respects. 

Industry luminaries and fans across the world are coming together today to mourn the passing of a legendary figure in video game history. Johann De Vries, the man who inspired the ‘X’ button on the PlayStation controller, died peacefully at his home in Rotterdam this morning at the age of 96. 


True gamers are no doubt familiar with Johann’s epic story, which began in the woods of Veluwezoom in the Netherlands. It was here that, as a child, Johann was mauled by a charging boar, a confrontation that left him with two vicious red scars on his face striking through each other diagonally. Talk about a stroke of luck! 

After this incident, Johann seemed destined to live an average life, and so he did until November of 1994, when he took one life-changing family vacation to Japan. A lover of modern architecture, Johann was touring Tokyo and happened to pass by the Sony Entertainment Headquarters. Little did Johann know but inside that very building was a team of engineers who had been struggling for weeks to complete a controller for their new gaming systems. The team had made big strides after coming up with a “∆” button, but now they were hitting a wall. As they stared out the window, desperate for an idea, they saw the perfect answer to their problem right on a Dutch man’s face. 

While initially horrified by his visage, the PlayStation developers were also struck by its elegant simplicity. PlayStation security guards quickly separated Johann from his family and ushered him inside, where, for the next three weeks, dozens of artists and designers would work 12-hour days to perfectly render the shape of his face. After finally matching the dimensions to De Vries’s perfectly circular face, the ‘X’ button was born...and the rest is video game history! 

While we’re sad to hear that such an important man in our community is no longer with us, it’s inspiring to remember everything he did for such an iconic piece of gaming history. So, come on gamers! The next time you jump, duck, or even button-smash to heavy-attack, take a moment and think of Johann. Godspeed, sir!