Some games provide the player a level of direct control over his avatars actions. For example in Tomb Raider (Douglas, 1996), there is a one-to-one relationship between the players input and Lara Crofts motions on screen. When the player pushes up on the joystick or joypad, Lara moves forward, when he pushes left, she turns left, right, she turns right. Other games take an interface approach more like the graphical user interfaces found in modern computer operating systems, using either menus or point and click interfaces. Combat within Final Fantasy X (Nakazato et al., 2001) is handled through a series of onscreen menus within which the player chooses what actions his players will take during the combat. In Sam and Max Hit the Road (Clark et al., 1993), Sam and Max interactions with the rest of the game world are determined by players choosing an action to perform from a menu and clicking on an object using a mouse.
Please note that a game can use multiple approaches to its control mapping. The previously mentioned Final Fantasy X (Nakazato et al., 2001) provides player controls that directly map to their party's movements in the game map, but use a menu interface for combat actions. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Rockstar Games, 2002) provides direct mapping for most of the player avatars actions, but a menu interface when purchasing items at a shop. Neverwinter Nights (Oster et al., 2002) provides a control method through which players directly control their characters movements, but use a point and click interface with contextual menus to attack, talk with, use skills upon, or otherwise interact with other game entities.
There are also games that provide multiple approaches for the same control. In other words, the player can choose whether how he wants to control objects. For example, in Bejeweled 2, the player can choose to select two gems to swap by clicking on them (indirect) or he can drag one gem over the other (direct). In this case, the action for swapping gems can be performed using two different types of manipulation methods.
Clark, S., Michaud, C., Purcell, S., and Stemmle, M. (1993). Sam & Max Hit the Road. LucasArts, dos edition.
Douglas, P. (1996). Tomb Raider. Eidos Interactive, dos edition.
Nakazato, T., Yoriyama, M., and Tsuchida, T. (2001). Final Fantasy X. Square Electronic Arts L.L.C., Playstation 2 edition.
Rockstar Games, developer (2002). Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Rockstar Games, Playstation 2 edition.