Daily Reaction: Why PlayStation’s X Button is Definitely Called Cross (But I Still Say ‘Ecks’)

Ever since a tweet sparked the conversation last week, players’ have been fiercely debating the PlayStation X button and whether it is pronounced “ecks” or “cross.” The tweet in question was from the official PlayStation EU Twitter account, confirming the long held knowledge the the X button is indeed the Cross button, but aside from official PlayStation confirmation on the matter, there’s actually a lot of history behind why it’s rightly called Cross.

When the original PlayStation was being developed, Sony didn’t want to use the same letter, number, or color system that other console manufacturers were using at the time. Remember that games were a lot more simple back then, so designer Teiyu Goto came up with simple shapes to denote the function of each button (also assigning each a specific color). The green Triangle was made to denote viewpoint. Pink Square was made as a menu button. And Circle and Cross represented “yes” and “no” respectively. “Cross” as in “cross something out” or cancel it. Though our NA readers may not know, many classic PlayStation games—especially those from Japan—used to require you to hit Circle to confirm something and Cross to cancel. It has since been commonly reversed, since Western games always reversed it, but I remember playing through the original Final Fantasy VII on my PS1 and having to use Circle to proceed, confirm, and accept. Cross canceled out of menus.

Okay, so you may argue that saying it “ecks” can mean to cancel something out just as much as cross can, but one should note how much the PlayStation symbols have become a part of PlayStation’s identity in a way that no other gaming controller’s buttons have. Using the term “Cross” allows Sony an easier time to own these trademarked symbols and differentiate from other consoles’ controllers. Triangle, Circle, Cross, and Square. These shapes stand out against the standard A, B, X, Y that is common elsewhere.

One tweet also points out that the PlayStation Cross is entirely symmetrical, forming four 90 degree angles at the center, where every other controller’s X button is the letter X, with two acute angles at the top and bottom and two obtuse angles on the sides. Simple geometry really. I mean just look at the letter X typed out. It doesn’t look like PlayStation’s controller symbol.

Additionally, Cross is officially part of the Sony style guide. Listen for audio cues. If you play the new Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and leave it on the main menu screen, a voice will tell you “Press Cross to begin.” So it’s there, it’s official, and it’s not like this is the first we’re hearing of this.

We’ve Known This For a Long Time

It’s not any kind of secret that the X button’s official designation is Cross. My wife has owned a shirt for years now that mimics the “John & Paul & George & Ringo” graphic design but instead it lists out the PlayStation shapes: “Triangle & Circle & Cross & Square.” PlayStation UK also makes a great point. If you call Cross “ecks,” then are you saying “oh” for the Circle button?

It always make me chuckle when this debate flares up again (and it will again). I’ve always known and acknowledged that the Cross button is the Cross button… but yes, I do call it “ecks.” Confusing, I know. See, when referring to the button solo as a function for a game, it’s “ecks” to me. Press ecks to jump. Press ecks to confirm. Press ecks to pick up item. I know that I’m wrong in that way of thinking, and I wholly acknowledge and admit that I’m wrong in that. When it comes to the trademark of all of the shapes together, however, it will never be ecks. It will always be Cross. Because that’s simply what’s right. That’s PlayStation’s identity.

Then again, as the Xbox Twitter account did point out that no matter which platform we play on, whether it’s PlayStation, Switch, Xbox, or PC, it’s the X button that unites us, so perhaps there’s an argument to be made there after all.


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