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.