While WASD may seem like the obvious choice for PC gamers today, twenty years ago this definitely wasn’t the case.
The first big push came in the form of mouse-look becoming standard in games, meaning it would make little sense to continue using the arrow keys (especially as a right-handed person).
But why WASD as opposed to any other keys?
The new movement scheme took several years to catch on, reports PC Gamer, and while we can’t know whose fingers found their way to WASD first, we do have a good idea of who popularized the style – the greatest Quake player in the universe, Dennis “Thresh” Fong.
And when he won that tournament, defeating Tom “Entropy” Kimzey on Castle of the Damned, his right hand was on a mouse, and his left hand was perched over the four keys we now consider synonymous with PC gaming.
“I’m certainly not going to take credit for the creation of [WASD],” says Fong.
“I stumbled across it. I’m sure other people started using it as well just based on what was comfortable for them. I definitely think I helped popularize it with a certain set of gamers, particularly the ones that played first person shooters.”
But while Fong may have helped popularised the scheme, it certainly existed in some form before him, and there were many gamers at the time who used the scheme without ever having heard of him.
The real game-changer was making WASD the default-scheme for 1998’s Half-life and Starseige Tribes and 1999’s Quake III, which now required all gamers to adopt the new scheme out of the gate and not just as an added option.
The games’ popularity combined with definitive proof that professional gamers were more successful with WASD, finally pushed the 4-letter combination fully mainstream.
Do you only use WASD? Let us know in the comments below and in our forums.