Southpaw Tales

By Alec Meer on March 16th, 2010 at 12:31 am.

I am just like him

As I believe I whined about last week, I’m suffering a nasty spot of RSI at the moment – nothing to write home about, comes with the territory and all that, but it has meant that once in a while I have to use my mouse with my left-hand while the tendons in the right have a right old moan at me. It was whilst doing this to try and play the mouse-controlled platformer 3114, made in four days for the Experimental Gameplay Project, that I remembered I used to be a left-hand-mouserman anyway. What with my being a left-hander and all, just like King of Americaland Mr Derek O’Balmer, who’s clearly drawing something naughty in the photo above.

In fact, the only reason I use a mouse with my right hand nowadays is (no) thanks to a really hideous bout of RSI back in 2000 or so that briefly rendered my southpaw entirely useless for mousing. How did I cope?

The RSI and the enforced ambidexterity alike were agony at the time, but ultimately an incredibly luck break – PC game controls are made with the right-hand in mind, as are most mice. After a couple of laboured weeks, with my PC usage fairly analogous to the spidery child-scrawl you’d get if you tried to handwrite with your off-hand, I clicked neatly into being a right-hand gamer. I’ve never looked back, and frankly I’ve been better at games since. It also means I no longer suffer the indignity of having rearrange the desktop and rebind all the keys whenever I go to play a game for a press briefing.

At the same time, I feel a little bad I’ve abandoned my place in the seven-to-ten percent of humanity who favour the noble southern paw. I’m not about to plunge into a big discourse about this (though I’m tempted to conduct a proper investigation into it down the line), but I’m curious as to how little I remember of what it was like, and how I did it. Did I really used to play FPSes with the cursor keys? That’s what memory tells me, because I’d found that WASD seemed too uncomfortably close to the mouse when it was left-positioned. Madness. What on earth did I use for jump, use, reload, lean et al?

I can definitely recall a certain bitterness about how many excellent-looking mice I was unable to use, because they were ergonomically designed for a right-hand only – something that’s still the case now, as I discover when trying to wield my nice Logitech rodent in my non-mangled left-hand. It’s a different world: thank heavens I seem to have some degree of ambidexterity ,or I fear for how short-lived my career in games journalism might otherwise have been. Oh, I also use my right hand to play frisbee, yet I always stroke cats with my left. Handedness: weird.

So, left-handers: speak out! How do you do it? What obstacles does it present? Are you frustrated at being overlooked by games and most especially gaming hardware? Are you ashamed of my betrayal? Have you made any cool modifications to your hardware or games to accommodate your clearly superior hand-preference?

Right-handers: you’re ordinary, and boring.

Hardware manufacturers: remember us, you stupid basts. A 2006 study revealed that we’re 15-26% richer than right-handers on average, so we’ve got more money to spend on your poxy products than those ten-a-penny commoners.

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124 Comments »

  1. Lambchops says:

    “We don’t have any relevant tags for this” made me giggle.

    I’m right handed but still remember having trouble adapting to good ol’ WASD when I first started gameing.

    The games I initially played on the PC had simple enough controls that I used the arrow keys with my right hand to move and keys like space and alt for jumping and firing. In my first efforts at games using the mouse I still remember wanting to use the arrow keys and using a horrid system with my left hand on the arrow keys and and the likes of right shift, alt gr, and space for jump and the num pad for any sort of extra keys. Needless to say, this worked rather terribly and I think it was eventually Unreal Tournament where I finally learned to use the more conventional PC control bindings.

    Since then I’ve never looked back.

    At least in terms of FPS and third person shooters. Every so often with platformers I’ll revert to right hand on the arrow keys, VVVVVV being a recent example of this.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      @ Lambchops

      My mate still does that. It’s odd because it’s hideously inefficient and increasingly more so as games become more complicated. We’re playing BFBC2 at the moment and there are not enough keys in the vicinity of the arrow keys to even use for all the actions available. Added to which they’re all in odd places- like crounch is delete. urgh. Whenever I’m over his gaff I can barely play the damn thing and whenever he’s over mine with the WASD setup he just can’t do it at all. And THERE IS NO CONVINCING HIM TO CHANGE!

      sad face.

    • Clovis says:

      It seems like early games actually suggested that you use the arrow keys. I know I used them or a long time. If things got complicated I would switch to the number pad! Hmm… if not for the proximity to the mouse, the number pad really isn’t that awful, is it?

      I’m WASD now, of cousre.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @Clovis

      Early games didn’t really let you jump. I wonder if the need for an obvious jump key caused the migration from cursors to WASD. I know I used to use the keypad when control schemes started to need more then just up/down/left/right (e.g. leaning, reloading, grenades), but I have no recollection of what I would have used for jump.

    • Viskernus says:

      Arrow keys: move – rightCtrl: jump – numpad 0: crouch
      numpad 1: use – numpad 2: reload – rightshift: sprint
      del+end+pgdn etc.: weaponswitch and various other stuff

      + a wealth of easy-to-feel numpad keys at your disposal for anything you want to map, with the letter keys always remaining available for less reflex-related things. The only potentially tricky thing about using the arrow keys is leaning, and that’s a rare necessity anyway.

      Not trying to promote arrow keys over WASD, but making effective (sometimes superior) use of them really isn’t the stone age practice it’s often made out to be. I like how it’s easy to feel your way around. It most certainly doesn’t affect my performance, and it’s nice not having my pinky on shiftlock all the time.

  2. LewieP says:

    I don’t like left handers. Can’t trust ‘em.

  3. Vinraith says:

    On the occasion that the tendonitis in my right wrist has flared up I’ve been forced to switch to left-handed mousing, and it’s incredibly awkward. In my case it’s the awkwardness of using the “wrong hand” coupled with the awkwardness of left-handed gaming in general, and the net result is that I tend to stick to turn based (or very slow real time) strategy titles and RPG’s. Anything with the slightest twitch component is completely out of the question.

    In short, you lefties have my sympathies. We’d probably all be better off if things were designed with a bit more ambidexterity in mind, if only so that we could comfortably switch back and forth until someone invents an input device as accurate and useful as a mouse but without all that pesky long term physical wear-and-tear.

    • Wulf says:

      Logitech makes an amazing ambidextrous trackball that I’m pretty fond of, one of their trackball models that they’ve used, and by and large it’s actually offset the introduction of RSI for me, since I adopted trackball usage early on. I still have healthy, young wrists which many gamers of my age (or possibly even younger) would probably be envious of.

      If I have any advice for people, it’s use a keyboard with a wrist-rest and soft keys, and also use a trackball. And as I said, where left-handed types are concerned, there are great ambidextrous trackballs out there.

      *is done furthering his pro-trackball agenda, for now.*

    • Geoffrey says:

      Just wanted to second the whole trackball thing. I started on Logitech’s, but moved to a Kensington Expert Mouse… over 4 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. Also completely ambidextrous (meaning symmetrical). I will say that the revision of my model that they brought out within months of my purchase is remarkably worse (I think they downgraded the optics, but I can’t prove it; I ended up with a spare through various machinations, and I’ve found that it refuses to pick up movement when you ramp speed too quickly from a standstill, which my original suffers from not in the least). I may suffer competitively against my mousing brethren in shooting-people-in-the-face-on-the-internet, but I’m okay with that.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      I have a trackball I carry around with my laptop, I have two problems with it. One, I feel like it lacks the stability and control necessary for twitch gaming. That might be my own lack of practice with it, of course, but it seems to move much more easily than a mouse and thus unwanted movements are more common. Second, it doesn’t have a scroll wheel (or equivalent) and I can’t find a reasonably priced fingertip trackball that does (thumb trackballs don’t work for me at all). Can I ask what you use?

    • wiper says:

      Vinraith: now, this is strictly for righty’s, and is no longer manufactured, but Microsoft’s Intellimouse trackballs were uniformly fantastic – ergonomic, heavy but accurate ball (I was /very/ competitive when it came to twitch-headshotting people back in the day), and with a wheel between the primary buttons. Also another two buttons where your ring and little finger rest, which I never use for games, but default to back and forward in most browsers, which is always handy. By far my favourite input device, though mine needs replacing after taking many knocks (still works perfectly, but the lmb-equivalent sometimes creaks when you click it, and there’s the sound of particles rattling around inside the trackball if you move it around).

  4. Dangerdad says:

    In my case, I’m a righty, but learned to mouse with my left hand because of RSI. I now do all of my mousing left-handed, including games (strategy and FPS, etc.). Because the number pad is on the right you have to swing your arm out further to mouse with your right hand than your left. I think it’s been a win.

    Games sometimes drive me nuts when they don’t recognize lefty mouse buttons (e.g. the Just Cause 2 demo right now) or hardcode WASD for movement. Oh, did I mention I use an ergonomic keyboard?

    Lastly, my favorite mouse is the good old Logitech Mouseman optical. It’s symmetric, the right size for my hand, but has no drivers beyond XP. Grrrr.

  5. gulag says:

    I’m left-handed, and I’ve never had a problem with WASD. I just shove the keyboard over to the right, use the heel of my hand to jump (spacebar) my right thumb to crouch (Ctrl) and my little finger to reload/interact/search bodies/throw grenades/turn on my flashlight etc. (It’s a very talented finger).

  6. matte_k says:

    I play with the standard WASD and mouse in right hand configuration, even though i’m actually left handed. However, I do, as you say Alec, use my right hand for the odd thing, such as opening doors whilst carrying tea (doing it the other way round feels weird). I vaguely remember a teacher at primary school being concerned about the rubbishness of my handwriting, and so he performed a series of tests by making me carry out tasks such as put a cardboard tube to my eye, catch a ball, kick a ball, write, pick something up and carry it, etc. He found that although I favoured my left hand, I did carry out a sizable number of tasks with my right hand, leading him to believe that with practice I could easily be ambidextrous.

    20 odd years later, i’m still a Southpaw and proud of it :)

  7. DesolationJones says:

    I think that left handers are richer because they can’t use our nice shiny right handed mice. That’s probably not true, but it is scientific fact.

  8. Iain says:

    I’m left-handed and I’ve always used a mouse right-handed. I think this mainly stems from when I first started using PCs at High School and it was just such a faff to remap the mouse buttons every time I wanted to use one of the computers (this was before the days of school networks with login profiles and quotas) that I just adapted to the way everyone else had them set up. That is, unless I wanted to particularly razz someone who was going to use the computer after me, then I’d totally remap everything (setting the left-click to minimize and right-click to left-click is particularly amusing) and screw the colour scheme to something absolutely hideous, to boot.

    Once I was at university and bought my own computer, the only thing that really stopped me from using my naturally dominant hand (that phrase conjurors up odd Dr. Strangelove-type images for me) to control the mouse after my post-Half-Life move to mouselook control on FPS games was the fact that Microsoft never seemed to make a left-handed version of the Intellimouse Explorer 2.0.

    • protospork says:

      Same here, it’s always such a hassle to have to shuffle everything around if you want to mouse left-handed. On my home machine I’ll sometimes go left-handed for a time, but I’ve never tried gaming with it – it’s a G5 so awkward enough just on the desktop :\

      If my right hand hurts, I just plug in the 360 pad and play GRID or something. Then again, whatever I’ve got isn’t very serious (“…yet”, or so mom keeps telling me :<).

    • DMJ says:

      I use my mouse and keyboard right-handed too, because I don’t want to the hassle of remap. Yet I ALWAYS invert Y.

      I’m ambi-sinister.

    • wererogue says:

      Yup, me too. My dexterity with my right hand is plenty good enough for pointing, clicking and shooting – the only times I’ve ever needed to switch hands is for those fiddly “move the cursor through the maze without touching the walls” games that were popular half a decade ago.

      I actually prefer to rely on my left hand for things like using the keyboard and guitar fretting – there’s less chance that I’ll miss the correct key.

  9. Enoch says:

    I am left-handed, but I have used the mouse with my right hand ever since the first time I laid eyes on it. That’s just where it went on the desk for everybody else, and I didn’t try to fight it. Honestly, I think that the keyboard hand of the mouse-and-keyboard combination is the one that has the harder task– more muscle-memory based-keyhunting and doing different things with different fingers.

    (Although I generally don’t find pure action games to be particularly entertaining. I want to say that this is because I am an intellectual elitist who prefers “figure it out” to “click on the man and he fall down,” but I’m not ruling out lack of fine motor skills as a contributing factor.)

  10. Sweedums says:

    its odd, i’m a lefty, but i do alot of things right handed… i write with my left, but i have always used a mouse with my right, i hold a tennis racket in my left, but hold a cricket bat in my right (with my left arm forward)…. i play pool/snooker as a right handed person would, but i throw balls left handed (i throw balls like a little girl right handed)….

    im also right footed… its confusing…

  11. Eidolon says:

    I use AutoCAD left handed on occasion. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes to the ache that tends to grow in whatever mousehand I’m using. I only game right handed, though – might say something about my priorities?

  12. Army_of_None says:

    “Right-handers: you’re ordinary, and boring.”

    Damn. I’m going to play neptune’s pride with my left hand just to show you how ordinary/boring I am, sirs! Because it is ever so difficult!

  13. Yargh says:

    Count me in as a southpaw who has always moused with the right hand although I do most other tasks with my left hand. Intriguingly I was nearly as good with each hand at both fencing and tennis.

    I suspect it is mostly a question of training and muscle memory, at least for mice.

  14. Andrew says:

    I’m left handed and always used right handed mousing too. Been doing it ever since i started computing so it feels natural. Though i probably do suck a teeny bit more in FPS games because of it. Strangely though i just cant bring myself to use a laptop touchpad with righty. Just feels so clumsy

  15. Klaus says:

    Left-handedness is the work of the Devil. Alec is clearly a witch of some kind.

    I have tried to use my left hand, but it leaves my right hand idle which is… disconcerting.

  16. Shrewsbury says:

    I’m left handed. I switched over to WASD a while ago when I got a new keyboard (it’s small enough for WASD to be suitably far away from the mouse), but I use the mouse in the left hand. I’ve also played FPSes with touchpads too, my first playthrough of Portal was with one. I tend to remap the use key to the middle mouse button unless there’s a melee button.

  17. Inanimotioon says:

    Left handed here. Never even thought about using the mouse left handed until I saw someone sit down at a computer and move it to the other side of the keyboard.

    Don’t really see the mouse as being right handed. Not anymore that WASD is left handed anyway. Which means it doesn’t really bother me at all.

    I’m somewhat ambidextrous from breaking my left arm and being forced to use my right for an extended amount of time.

    I also throw a frisbee right handed lol

  18. The Dark One says:

    Despite being a leftie, I’ve always used things like scissors and mice that were designed for righties. Maybe that explains my terrible aim in first person shooters. :I

    • El Stevo says:

      @ The Dark One:

      Mmmn. When I was little my teachers at school would spend ages tracking down a pair of left-handed scissors before proudly presenting them to me. I was too shy to point out that I could use right-handed scissors fine.

  19. nhex says:

    Suffering from RSI right now, and I’m using the right hand for the mouse. Even as a lefty, though, I’ve never switched the mouse buttons, never saw a need for it. Mapping WASD to cursor keys was something I’ve generally done, but now I do find it easier to just move the keyboard itself further to the right since so many games now use a ton of keys centered around that. I am annoyed that there aren’t more ambidextrous mice.

  20. Rive says:

    Im left handed, and i still use the mouse with the left hand. I didnt reverse the buttons though. Too much hassle in school or at somebody elses place. I still play shooters with the arrow keys. r ctrl/enter = use, 0numpad is crouch, other num keys are usually weapons, gadgets etc., page down is grenade/similar, end is reload, delnumpad is usually inventory or something like that, sprint is usually on the thumbbutton for the mouse. Oh, and i use invert mouse.

    On the consoles, most of the fps games are unplayable for me. For example: Gears of War. You can switch move/look on the sticks. Since you cant remap the buttons though, you cant press A to run AND the right stick to move without doing some form of hardcore finger yoga. It is getting increasingly hard on PC too. Back in the days you could remap everything. Now it is common, even in computer games to lock out certain functions. You could remap almost everything in Fallout 3. Except the button that toggles VATS. Had to fingeryoga my way through this one with WASD. This is really a topic that hits a nerve with me. Especially because the industry is developing backwards in this. I still remember when i could even remap every single function of a game on the controller. And i really dont think it is that much harder to do today, because some games still do it.

    • Shalrath says:

      You can blame TRC/TCR’s for that. You HAVE to make sure the prompt is correct for buttons even if you change them. So most publishes laze out and just give you a couple presets. PC is free to do whatever they want – but some places are just flat out lazy.

    • Jens says:

      @ Rive:

      I gave up years ago on remapping controls ingame. Instead I just bought a keypad. Now I can remap the buttons of the keypad to whatever I want – not to mention macros and stuff. Also it is easier on the hand (left in my case) then using a keyboard. The only drawback is it is rubbish for typing, so you need to have your normal keyboard handy for that.

  21. Anaphiel says:

    I’m a righty, and I play every FPS with the standard WASD setup except for the ancient Bungie classic Marathon. Marathon I play with the arrow keys, with the control key held down perpetually as the “run” key, and using the keypad 0 key as my alt-fire. I blame a) starting off as a keyboard-only player and b) the days when Mac mice really did only have one button.

    Oddly, to this day, 15 years or whatever since that game came out, I cannot bring myself to play with the keyboard layout that I use for every other game in my library… gotta use the weird arrow-keys-and-keypad setup.

  22. TheDextriarchy says:

    I’m in the same boat as Andrew–I vaguely remember trying to rearrange the mouse on the first computer I used so I could use it with my left hand, but I think because the only desktops I ever had were public/family machines, I quickly switched to right-handed mousing. Using a trackpad with my right hand feels utterly unnatural, though, which leads to some weird situations where I plug a mouse into my laptop and end up trying to use both it and the trackpad simultaneously.

    Obviously this opens up my mouse options exponentially; the only serious difference I’ve noticed between myself and right-handed gamers is that I’m disinclined to use anything except a standard three-button mouse. It feels a lot more natural to coordinate turning/ducking/reloading with my left hand, and save the right for nothing but point-and-click stuff.

  23. El Stevo says:

    I’m another lefty who’s never used a mouse with anything but his right hand.

  24. jarvoll says:

    I’m right-handed, but a few years ago I decided that I wanted to really test my co-ordination and switch to doing everything left-handed. I believe the prompt was a New Scientist article that suggested brushing one’s teeth left-handed to make oneself “smarter”, by encouraging cross-corpus-callosum activity. Anyway, since about 2005, I have done *everything* left-handed (yes, even that). The hardest was probably hand-writing – that’s taken me about a year and a half, and I’m still slower and my script is noticeably different.

    The second-hardest was probably gaming, but I found it only took about a month before it was just as comfortable as right-handed gaming. One of my proudest achievements is finishing Far Cry on “realistic” with no quick-saves and mousing left-handed. As far as keyboard controls go, my movements are OKL;, which I find superior to WASD since there are more keys around OKL; for mapping to weapons, chat functions, etc… The only problems I’ve encountered with this are 1) Bioshock didn’t let me use my left-handed mouse-button set-up; it turned out this was Bioshock’s least sin, but still, screw you, developers; and 2) Quite a few games hate the semicolon (;) for some reason, so I’m forced to shift my hand one key to the left, to IJKL. This makes crouching with rAlt a little uncomfortable, but still manageable. My biggest problem is I have to remember which games are I and which are O, and sometimes my hand comes down on the keyboard in the wrong place for a particular game, so I end up rushing from behind cover instead of leaning out of it, for example.

    • Okami says:

      Little historic info: IJKL were the keys used by the C64 versions of the Bard’s Tale games for movement, since the little Commodore didn’t have any arrow keys (well it did, but there were only two: one for up/down and another one for left/right, they were situated next to each other and you had to use the ‘shift’ key to switch from one funtion to the other. In short, they weren’t really suitable for navigating in a computer game).

    • sfury says:

      Hmm I doubt I’d be trying handwriting with my left hand – my right is bad enough already and I’m having very few instances where I have to write something by hand.

      Gaming or mouse-ing in general – nah, not for me too.

      But ambidexterity is a pretty cool thing so I might try that myself for other daily activities, dual-wielding katanas for example (a dream of mine since playing BG II) :)

      Anyway, congrats on your achievment!

  25. Shalrath says:

    I taught a guy in school to use p l ; ‘ instead of WASD, and put the mouse on the left side. He looked at me like I’d just invented fire. To this day I believe he still uses it.

    One of my sons is a lefty, and I was ADAMANT he learn left-handed. I wont break him of it just because people who make games don’t give a shit.

  26. ohnoabear says:

    When I first started using mice, I used my left hand, but it wasn’t worth the bother so I gradually became a right-handed mouser. I’m still fairly ambidextrous at the mouse; although I wouldn’t play games with the mouse on my left, I can do most other tasks easily. I think it has something to do with the mouse not needing fine finger control for most tasks.

    As an aside, I’ve found it pretty easy to learn to do things right-handed, provided I don’t already know how to do them left-handed. I consciously learned to play guitar right-handed, for example, after being frustrated to no end over the lack of ice hockey goalie gloves for my right hand, and knowing left-handed guitars were similarly rare. Other than a slight lack of precision when picking, I’m no worse at guitar than any naturally right-handed person.

  27. Alistair says:

    Not just Obama, but Clinton, Bush and Reagan were left-handed, plus a few more US presidents. Crazy world.

    • sfury says:

      Not bad – 8 out of 44, that’s about double than natural occurring percent of lefties.

      btw I’m getting such a kick calling Reagan and Bush “lefties”, nazi commies all of them… ;)

  28. HPew says:

    I’m left handed, but for reasons long forgotten I have always moved a mouse with my right hand. This is incredibly useful when mixed with a pen tablet–pen in left hand, mouse in right, equal skill with both.

  29. Lethal Jelly says:

    I’m left handed but just always used my right hand for the mouse, never really thought about it until I watched a fellow lefty move the mouse over in order to play.

  30. Saleck says:

    I hate games that insist in using the left mouse button to click in menus (BioShock, BioShock 2, UT3, S.T.A.L.K.E.R and don’t get me started on GTA4′s ludicrous system including key bindings). Configuring Keys is always a small annoyance (the whole WASD setup doesn’t apply to me).
    Also, there are a few games out there that allow me to have the gun on the left side of the screen as opposed to the right. The Unreal series has always had this feature. Valve added it to Team Fortress 2 a while back too which was nice. I sent Gabe Newell an e-mail thanking him and got a nice response back :)
    Outside of Gaming: I’m also into bugging my university tutors.. I always have the mouse set to left handed there and every time they try to use my mouse they will right click…. then right click again… then sigh and smile because they remember my annoying habits :P
    I still want to learn how to play an Electric Guitar too.. but because of, in my opinion, DISCRIMINATION… left handed guitars are usually double the price of right handed ones :( its not fair! I cant afford any kind of good guitar because of stupid prices. Its the same chunk of wood just wire it the other way damnit!
    Anyway, being left-handed has minimal effect for me in games and I can screw with people’s minds outside of it. It’s fun! Up The Southpaws!

  31. AgentHH says:

    I’m right handed, but I started mousing left handed many years back when I had an RSI in my right hand. I am now a convert to IJKL. Strangely enough, I don’t swap the mouse buttons. There are many games that I can rebind all of my controls nicely in, but there are a few that still won’t let you do that fully. Bad Company 2 multiplayer completely reserves the enter key for the spawn menu, which is my usual crouch key. Shattered Horizon doesn’t seem to support any of those very-right-hand-side keys as well :(

    Also, nobody makes a left-handed mouse and it drives me bonkers. I would totally buy a G5 if they made a lefty version.

  32. A-Scale says:

    Allow me to begin by thanking you for speaking about us. Along with mouth breathers we are some of the most openly discriminated against people in the world today.

    Secondly, being almost entirely left handed, I mouse exclusively with my right. My left hand is more dexterous, and my right is steadier. I think I prefer the steadiness when gaming, though it’s not like I have much choice in the matter (I couldn’t change now). However, I do everything else lefty. My hands are always slightly inked, scissors kill my hands, and I shoot my guns left handed as well. I almost lost an eye thanks to my leftiness when a round exploded out of battery in my 22 rifle and a piece of shrapnel soared just inches past my eyes and landed on the tarp next to me ten feet away.

    We do however have advantages. We’ve got a funny style of fighting and hitting balls, which is an advantage. Moreover, we can shake hands and wield a weapon at the same time! Truly in the land of the right handed man the left handed man is king! Except for scissors.

  33. drewski says:

    I’m a righty, but I play pool left handed.

    I have an old Intellimouse around here somewhere which is ambidextrous, so I may try some lefty experiments. Certainly my very first impressions of IJKL are nothing but positive. It feels…natural. So does WASD, of course, but there will at least be no hand positioning issues. I do notice that with IJKL my little finger defaults to ; whereas my left pinky likes LSHIFT. A relic of my typing positiong, perhaps.

  34. Grey_Ghost says:

    I use an Orochi mouse (Razer) in wired mode for my desktop. It replaced my old MouseMan from circa 1992. It’s neither left-handed or right-handed. Thank heavens I finally found a comfortable modern mouse!

  35. Melf_Himself says:

    I’m a lefty.

    I remember playing Jedi Knight online using the arrow keys, comma and period to strafe, Force powers were insert/delete/etc.

    My friends played quake using the mouse, and I was sort of like… lol? Looks so imprecise. Then I didn’t play any FPS games for a few years, and mouse/WASD defaults became ubiquitous. I discovered that my previous negative perception lasted for about 10 seconds, and now it feels about as natural as breathing.

    You have to be able to exercise control over both hands when doing mouse/WASD, but it’s not especially imprecise control. I don’t think it would be difficult for right handers to switch to arrow keys + left-hand mouse, for example (if mouses (mice?) weren’t curved to favour the right hand, anyway).

    It’s not like we’re doing rocket surgery here.

    • Melf_Himself says:

      *not especially PRECISE, I meant

    • Jebediah Adder says:

      It’s funny how it’s sometimes really hard to let go of something you’ve got used to. I remember ditching the all-keyboard-controls in shooters only when my previously very even Quake matches against a couple of my friends took a nasty turn when they managed to master mouse controls.

      Damned grappling hook mod was the last straw…

    • Will Tomas says:

      I think I first completed Half-Life using arrow keys and control to fire, rather than the mouse. Crazy. But it was on Easy, and a hold-over from playing the only other FPSes I’d ever played at that point (Dark Forces at home, Wolfenstein and Doom at school) with a keyboard only. Of course, that was over 10 years ago now, but still…

  36. MaxFrost says:

    I’ve actually run into this problem myself more and more recently with hack n’ slash games like ninja gaiden, bayonetta, and darksiders. The controller layout is designed for righties, and while the control stick/buttom mapping works for the most part, trigger layouts are what get me, as my brain is hardwired to pull my left index for block (I blame smash brothers for this, they had a good control scheme). Having to use my right hand for everything just gets old, let me remap keys dammit!

    This is why I’m still predominately a PC gamer. While I do use the mouse right handed, my left hand by far has the more complicated job, and is actually quite practiced at finger yoga. The more buttons the game needs, the better I play. So in other words I suck at FPS, but I rule at WoW or any other game that abuses keyboard controls.

  37. MJS says:

    *Hugs his Razer mouse*

    Not quite on the leftie/ evil right handed subject but todays old PCG toilet reading was issue120 and had a nice devils advocate by Steve Brown (?) about why the cursor keys are superior to WASD.

    Anyway more on the leftie rightie stuff, I’m decently ambidextrous when it comes to some things, instinctively picking up stuff/petting the kitties with whatever hand is closer, most DIY/kitchen tools, im completly happy using either hand for basketball dribbling or shooting and general desktop mouse usage among other stuff.

    The only things im really left handed are things thats need a decent amount of accuracy/hand-eye/skill/small movements, like writing (the only major thing I’m awful at right handed), throwing balls smaller than basket/football size accurately, one handed catching, pool (though im not much worse with my right and im pretty poor eitherway) and of course mouse gaming. When it comes to any game faster than the likes of Civ or X-Com if I don’t use my left it feels unnatural and for accurate and fast aiming I would probably suck with my right.

    90% of the time I still use the cursor keys, in its own little separate shrine from the rest of the common keys and the excellent surrounds of enter, r shift, r control etc as well as the num pad and depending on the layout either handy or not so handy pg up/down end ins etc. It all seems far better spaced out and planned compared to the WASD set up using a tight knot of random letters (W for forward? what?! :p) , the number line that stretches all the way over the length of the keyboard just seems odd in some games and the shift/ctrl just doesnt feel natural to hit if I’m playing rightie.

    Still for some games (I’m looking at you ARMA/OFP) due to the huge amount of keys and already complex key layouts I usually (always on a laptop for such games due to the missing num pad) end up with having to use WASD or on the rare occasion the preferable IJKL for hand spacing reasons. Apart from these games, which I can’t grumble about, I have no problems using cursor keys apart from the rubbish (anti)bindings on BF2/BC2 than lock some keys out.

    As long as I can keep on getting decent ambidextrous mice and the type of keyboard I like, flat keys with a good positioned righthand side, I’ll be happy with left handed pc gaming.

    And on a slightly worrying note, I don’t think my Mum likes me, last time I came home and went to use the family PC I found that she had replaced the universal microsoft basic mouse with a strange right handed gaming monstrosity…apparently it was the only one tesco had in stock (even with using my right hand, I dont understand how some of you use these weird shaped rightie only lumps of a mouse! I will again hug my razer lachesis *hug*), she loves it though.

  38. Zerotonine says:

    My girlfriend is a left-hander, but she’s been a computer user for a long time and has become accustomed to using her right hand for mousing. I don’t think she’s ever complained about not being able to use a left-handed mouse.

    It wasn’t until she started playing The Witcher that I had to teach her of the ways of WASD, especially since the different combat styles are mapped to Z, X & C, and employs mouselook in the over-the-shoulder view and she’s now a pro!

    She used to play WoW and she could get away with using the arrow keys to move and turn, she wouldn’t strafe, and wouldn’t use the mouse to look unless she wanted to change the viewing angle. I don’t think she’s ever going to go back to arrow keys on a regular basis now that she’s comfortable with WASD.

  39. DarkNoghri says:

    Not really a righty/lefty issue, but more of a keyboard thing that I thought was amusing. Some of my first PC games were racing games, where I played with a keyboard. Steer with arrows/numpad, shifting and so on with a/z/whatever. I also played some shooters, with mouse + WASD. I was able to swap back and forth with total abandon.

    And then I was at a friends place once, and he had one of the early Tony Hawk games. It was played on a keyboard. If I recall correctly, controls required WASD movement and numpad keys were used for special moves. Jumps and so forth. Somehow, that setup completely boggled my mind. I was unable to play it with anything resembling competency. I kept trying to use the wrong controls for the wrong thing. I’m sure I could have gotten over it in time, but in the half hour I was there, it was horrendous.

    I can only imagine how hard it is for lefties in our right-biased gaming world.

  40. Ravenger says:

    I’m left handed, use the mouse in my left hand and the arrow keys for movement, right shift for jump, right control for duck, and enter for reload or melee depending on the game. I use the left mouse button for shooting.
    I have to use my right hand to use a joystick because originally there were no left handed flight sticks, so I taught myself to fly right handed.
    My biggest probems are a) Non rebindable movement keys (I’m looking at you, Dead Space) where I can’t use the arrow keys for movement, and b) Finding a decent ambidextrous mouse, as all the decent mice with lots of buttons are right handed only.

  41. smokingkipper says:

    Somebody earlier mentioned the previous Presidents of USA all appeared to be left handed.

    The study Alec linked to (and a quick web search) also mentions:

    Michelangelo
    Isaac Newton
    Albert Einstein
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Pablo Picasso
    Bach
    Napoleon
    Alexander the Great

    Not a bad list. Being a lefty myself I am not sure if I should be proud, or guilty for my lack of any obvious talent!

  42. Benjamin says:

    I’m left handed in absolutely everything except using the mouse. I just use it on the right side, and have never bothered to switch it over. It never felt weird at all. Plus I can write notes on paper and use the mouse at the same time. ;)

    I think left handedness is something of an unrecognised minority. Society doesn’t consider us as being disadvantaged in any way. But, a lot of manual tools are designed for use in the right hand, and even something as simple as scissors are painful to use for a long period of time (due to the shape of the finger holes… plus you can’t see where exactly where you’re cutting because of the way the blades are placed). I wonder if you were to look at a history of injuries and accidents whether left handedness leads to an increased chance of injury?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy with being left handed. :)

    @Yargh: Hah, I used to fence when I was younger as well! Left handers have an extreme advantage in fencing – most of the people we fight (right handers) are not experienced fighting against left handers, so we have the upper hand (hah!) there. And when we fight left handers, both of us are in the same boat, so there’s no disadvantage.

  43. Grunt says:

    (raises left hand) I’m yet another leftie who’s always used his right hand for the mouse. Just like scissors. I’m grateful, frankly, that my right hand found itself something to do in life.

    Er…something else useful.

    Nice to see the bloke in the picture holding his pen the exact same way I do. Makes me feel that tiny bit less of a freak.

  44. Mungrul says:

    I don’t get why left handed gamers use the massively constrained arrow keys, when just to the right of those on 98% of keyboards there is the numeric keypad. IT BOGGLES MY MIND!
    Like someone else mentioned here, I used to play the first Marathon, but I used to play it solely with the keyboard. The default bindings involved the use of the numeric keypad for movement and a few keys to the left of the keyboard for looking and shooting. Since then, I’ve always thought that the numeric keypad would be ideal for left-handed gamers.

    Saying that though, I write left-handed, play most games right-handed, except Wii games which I play left-handed, and my eyebrows meet in the middle.
    Clearly I’m not to be trusted.

    • Dan Milburn says:

      I used to play FPSes with the numeric keypad. Not having easy access to thebuttons to select individual weapons was a bit of a pain, but apart from that it works fine. I think I only switched to WASD when I start playing World of Warcraft..

  45. Heliosicle says:

    Depends for me, for Arma 2 I use WASD because of the fact that I need me alot of keys, for most other things I use arrows, I’m used to a laptop keyboard, where I had end for jump, shift for run/walk, application for talk, and ctrl for crouch, might buy a new keyboard soon…

    I must say, being a left handed pc gamer is alot better than being a left handed mac gamer, I remember trying to play CoD 1, 6 or 7 years ago, with a single click mouse and the numpad, it didnt occur to me to move the keyboard…

  46. Will says:

    I’m left-handed, but have always used my right hand for mousing for some reason. I’ve had moderate to severe RSI (amusingly called OOS in my adoptive land) on and off for years – enough to go to the doctor for when it flares up, mainly from multi-hour coding sessions with insufficient breaks.

    @Alec: I’ve had some success using Workrave as a break timer, which has helped me get over bad spells. But I had to buy a new mouse a couple of years back and chose a Microsoft Mouse 7000 (it has a near-vertical left side and slopes down on the right). I really haven’t had any RSI issues since despite turning Workrave off and working some very heavy contracts. It’s right-handed, but I’d suggest giving it a try if you get over the current bout and feel like changing hands again. It might be self-suggestion, but I haven’t really made any other work environment changes that I’m aware of and I’ve been symptom free since not long after I bought it.

    It can also be useful to use something like a tablet from time to time since it provides pointing via a different set of hand/wrist movements and might offer your wrist a break. Plus learning all the Windows keystrokes helps too!

    @Yargh, Benjamin: I’m a (lapsed) left-handed fencer too. It’s great, execpt when your opponent is left handed as well then it all falls apart :( Worth it for being able to irritate right-handed folk with things like a disengage lunge to their left shoulder…

    Best of luck,

    Will

  47. MinisterofDOOM says:

    I can’t write to save my life with my left hand (admittedly, even my righthanded handwriting is barely legible) but most other things I do well with either hand. At work when juggling multiple computers, I do a lot of left-hand mousing. but with right-handed mouse setups. My left-handed left-button double click speed has increased dramatically over the years…it was once pathetic, causing me to accidentally rename desktop shortcuts rather than launching programs.
    Working on my cars, same thing…whichever hand is better positioned to turn the wrench or drop the hot oil filter and dribble oil down my arm, etc. gets used…I don’t contort myself to get my right hand into position. I’ve always wanted to drive a RHD car with a manual trans just to see how bad I’d fail at shifting with my wrong hand. Oops, that’s not first, that’s reverse.

  48. JB says:

    I’m a (boring old) righty, but I play sports left-handed/left-footed. I even used to do highjump like a lefty. If I try to write left handed it’s the usual drunken-spider-fell-in-the-inkwell-and-ran-across-the-page. Never tried using a computer left-handed though.

  49. Reverend Speed says:

    In most things I’m left-handed; with a mouse I’m ambidextrous which can unnerve friends when they see me casually using the hand closest to the mouse… then crossing my right hand over my left to use the keyboard.

    Friends: WAT?!

    Me: …wut?

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      lol i do this too, i think it’s easier to be ambidexterous with a mouse than a pen. i play guitar right handed, i cut things with my left hand but only with right handed scissors, i can’t get left handed scissors to work! the most annoying thing about being left handed is screw caps!

  50. Dan Milburn says:

    I mouse left-handed for games, and right-handed for everything else. This seems to be enough to keep the RSI at bay.

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