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For less Left-Hander Discrimination in Gaming!

September 27th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m a southpaw! I do all kinds of things that require a certain degree of eye to hand-coordinated skill with my left hand. This includes using the computer mouse too. So I have the mouse on the left side next to my keyboard with my left hand using the mouse and left part of the keyboard and the right hand using the right side, incl. cursor keys and numeric keyblock.

With a standard keyboard we lefties actually have a  slight advantage over right-handers when it comes to playing First-Person-Shooters or third-person-view games since we have a nicely separated block of keys that we can use for controls with the right hand where right-handers would need to use some obnoxious key layouts in the depths of the left side of their keyboard, in particular the notorious WASD keys.

[ad#gog_jaggedalliance2_box]If the game allows me I configure it to use the cursor keys as the main movement controls, i.e. Cursor-Up = move forward, Cursor-Down = move backward, Cursor-Left = Strafe left and Cursor-Right = Strafe right. Additionally I often assign important functions to the keyblock that lies directly above the cursor keys and to the numeric block if needed. Usually the End key becomes my ‘Use’ Key (where right-handers often use the Space Bar *yuck*). The home key is also often re-assigned but recently it is reserved for Windows Live in some games – another let-down!
My key configuration feels just natural for me and all important keys are in the close vicinity of my right hand while I use the mouse to rotate the camera around.

The more annoying it is if a game doesn’t let you change important key assignments or, worse, doesn’t let you to change any keys at all. This happened to me some years back with the game Scarface: The World is Yours. The procedure with that game basically went like this: I’ve installed the game, watched the intro, tried to change the default keyboard control assignments, realized that they cannot be changed at all, tried to play the game for a few minutes with the default keys, gave up because controls were too annoying, uninstalled the game (never to be seen again on my hard disk!). Radical Entertainment, F minus! sit down!

Yesterday I encountered a similar game: Constantine. I liked the movie despite that it received many negative critics. And because I like the comic-inspired horror theme and we almost have Halloween I said let’s give it a try. Well, what can I say … the game doesn’t allow the player to assign the cursor keys for movement controls. It’s not as bad as Scarface but still … what is the developer’s rationale for this lack? I believe it’s just pure ignorance. They obviously don’t have a single left-handed person in their development or quality assurance team!
Not sure how long I will continue to play this game before the controls annoy me so much that I loose interest.

All I can say is I’m glad to be a left-handed game developer! For some part we make better games! To hell with those triple-A developers that don’t even have a glimpse of an idea to think about flexible controls!

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  1. Macaca
    September 27th, 2009 at 19:38 | #1

    This can be very trainable: a friend of mine is a leftie, but due to the cramped computer-area he used to have (when he started using the pc of his parents) he allways used the rightie setup. And stuck with it even when he got more space later (is more convenient no to have to switch stuff and settings around). So years later he plays his games this way (and FPS’s very competitive too) even though he does anything else the same as ‘normal lefties’.

  2. September 30th, 2009 at 06:07 | #2

    LOL! I hear ya. I am a leftie as well, and have learned to use both hands for mousing. I can do most simple mousing with my right, but when it comes to games (FPS) I gotta go leftie. As for keyboard setup, I absolutely agree with you. Nothing annoys me more than a game that assumes that everyone uses WASD and leaves no option to customize. After all these years of game dev, seems like that should be in a list of ‘must do’ items when designing a game for general usability. There’s probably some game design doc floating around the net that list those type of things out.

  3. February 14th, 2011 at 23:42 | #3

    I have seen a lot of Free MMO’s which do not allow the directional keys to be used(left right up down) which is the perfect setup for lefties. instead they force you to use WASD which of course leaves you having to jump all the way across the keyboard to reach the other keyes. Righties would have the SAME problem if they had to use the directional keys.

    This is not something we should just accept and train ourselves to do the right handed way. its VERY simple to make programmable keys in a game, and its been done since the days of doom and earlier. Games like Shaiya, used to be able to allow left handed movement via the up key and when I returned to the game it was suddenly disabled, and couldnt be set via key config :( Other games like pefect world, etc, I havent even tried playing.

    Good games? Dragon’s Age, Oblivion fallout, drakensang, WOW etc all allow lefties to setup their config the way they want it.

  4. Vordan
    September 29th, 2011 at 19:33 | #4

    Tried playing Shaiya about 20 minutes ago because I thought the reviews and game play I had seen looked pretty good for a F2P MMORPG. Well I get in the game, hit with the WASD stick and tried using the “click-to-move” feature and it was horrible. Quit the game and uninstalled it. Sucks that there is no configuration in some games, even with computer accessories, like gaming mouses. If some company out there made a gaming mouse like the Razer Naga although Razer came out with DeathAdder, they would make a lot of money…its not quite the Naga. Almost though, almost. I hate being left handed sometimes.

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