Left Out – A Differently-Handed Gamer’s Lament
EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS
I am a left-handed person, and much like the overwhelming majority of left-handed people, I tend to do most things with my left hand. That’s just kind of how being left-handed it works, right?
This outrageous language bias notwithstanding, approximately ten percent of human beings are left-handed. Statistically, left-handed people are better than right-handed people at pretty much everything
, although we also demonstrate a somewhat higher incidence of dementia.
I blame scissors, vegetable peelers, turnstiles, lever arch files, spiral notebooks, heavy machinery, writing with ball point pens, writing backwards, just writing in general – but especially my compulsory standard 3 calligraphy course – anything with push buttons, and those flip-down desks with the arm rest on the right (wrong) side.
And ergonomically-shaped computer mice, obviously, but my lefty Razer Death Adder was delivered this week so I’m feeling better about those right now.
On the other hand (as it were), there’s the big issue of video games and key bindings. I recently decided to get back into PC gaming a bit because my TV broke and I can’t play on my Xbox for the next six weeks while Sony puts the thing back together, so I bought a bunch of games on Steam, including Orcs Must Die.
Gratuitous, imperative monster genocide? Yes, that sounded like something I could get into. So I downloaded the game and booted it up, all ready to slaughter the greenskin hordes, only to discover that the default key bindings were all wrong.
“No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just reconfigure them.”
Except no, I couldn’t just do that because the right-handed overlords at Robot Entertainment had decided not to include that particular feature in the game, and basically shut out ten percent of their market.
Like any regular person with something important to complain about, I immediately took my whining over to Twitter which prompted the inevitable interrogation from privileged right-handers who don’t understand because everything, everywhere is made specially for them already.
What’s the problem with the default WASD control scheme? The problem with the WASD control scheme is probably most easily explained with visual aids, but after taking a photograph of my left hand resting with the fingers comfortably arrayed on and around the relevant keys and then swapping over to my right hand, I discovered I was unable to take the second photo because my camera’s shooting functions are all on the wrong side of the camera. My dementia score has incremented by two points.
If you’re right-handed then, simply try it for yourself. You’ll probably realise instantly how awkwardly your hand is positioned, especially with both your thumb on the shift key and your pinky finger on the space bar. Bonus points if you own one of those expensive gaming keyboards with all the extra keys on the left that you now have to reach with your thumb, and twist your wrist doing it, and the next thing you know, you’re being burned alive at the stake for witchcraft. This is exactly the kind of institutionalised oppression that left-handed people suffer on a day to day basis. This and can openers, I mean.
But back to Orcs Must Die, and after a whole lot of slogging around internet forums for information, I was eventually able to remap the keys using a .cfg file hack, but my point is, I shouldn’t have to go to that sort of trouble just to play a game. This is basic Gameplay 101 stuff, and the omission of such a fundamental consideration (that’s for one in ten players, remember) reflects rather badly on the developer. Seriously, how hard could it be to include the option to reconfigure keys, or – at the very least – to use an alternate, predefined set of keys over on the other side of the keyboard? Not very, I’d expect. So let’s see more of that in future.
This is Tarryn, signing off.