Particularly stubborn left-handers like me, who even use their left mouse, have to suffer from the right-handed standards of the gaming world. Ergonomic hardware is a rarity and the key assignment of the games mutates into an arduous tinkering session. How I deal with these challenges and why nothing simply wants to change in favor of my fellow sufferers, I tell you in this report.
Source: Melanie Weißmann
Melanie Weißmann is a student of media culture studies in Freiburg. Her greatest passions: playing and writing. That is why she is currently an intern at PC Games. Melanie prefers to play competitive online games like Valorant or League of Legends – preferably in company. As a left-handed gamer, she is particularly annoyed by the constant adjustment of the keyboard layout, since she has already had to sacrifice many valuable minutes of play there.
Worldwide only about one in ten people is left-handed. The difference between a weak and a strong hand is particularly noticeable in fine motor skills, with quick reactions and pure strength. In fast-paced or competitive games, these characteristics are crucial for the player's skill. He only needs strength to throw his controller angrily against the wall at the end of a salty session.
The past has given us left-handers a bad name. The word "left" originally means something like "clumsy" or "sneaky". We were hardly born bad people who just didn't deserve an ergonomic gaming experience – were we? In contrast, the word "right" has stood for the good and the true for a very long time. It is not for nothing that the law is pronounced or an item build is considered correct. Even in the generation of our parents, children were driven out of their left-handedness by force, probably because they didn't like it. Fortunately, left-handers today only have minor luxury problems, such as uncomfortable gaming.
When someone sees me gambling, I am always looked at as stupid. "Why are your hands on the keyboard so weird?" or "Why are you shooting your middle finger?" the curious visitor wonders. Yes, I could have decided right from the start to use the mouse with my right hand. I can think of a thousand great reasons that even today speak for ignoring the keyboard in the truest sense of the word instead of the mouse. But there was always one big reason against it: habit.
Even at school, the mice in the computer room were always on the right. In my home, which is dominated by right-handers, I also had to start my PC lesson by swapping mouse and keyboard. With the right hardware setup, I just felt like a clumsy kid just getting started. Left-clicking with your middle finger felt as natural as breathing itself. The habit was born.
Hardly any right-hander knows the annoying feeling of having to manually set the entire key assignment when setting up a new game. Since each control is structured a little differently and requires a different number of buttons, even left-handed gamers often need more than a quarter of an hour until each button is in place. I myself tend towards different versions in which the usual WASD is replaced by a UHJK. That way I have a certain amount of space between my hands and enough assignable buttons around my main buttons. Every links player develops his own feel-good assignments over time.
In multiplayer, these absurd assignments can quickly lead to communication problems. “Which button do I use to reload?” Asks a friend in one of our first Valorant rounds. I was about to answer him when I remembered that my statement was just as useless to him as the mention of a completely random button. I myself can't afford to forget my controls if I don't want to open the bulky options in the middle of a round.
Left-handed people have an advantage in many sports. Whether tennis, handball or boxing, the opponent expects the movements of a right-hander and has to adapt to the mirror-inverted pattern. In e-sports it doesn't matter to the opponent whether the other person uses his mouse with the left or right. For the links player, however, it means an enormous limitation in the choice of hardware. Finding the right mouse turns out to be difficult. It has to be ambidextrous and small enough for my dainty woman’s hands. The only real left-handed mouse from Razer is too big for me. In electronics stores, the selection is often so limited that I have to use an online order to try out a possibly suitable model.
After many years of gaming, I even tried to train myself to right-handed gaming with a mouse that I just loved. After a few hours I gave up. It was like writing an entire book with the wrong hand. It took me at least twice as long for all actions. The thought that from now on I would play significantly worse than usual for several months also contributed to the termination of the attempt. So, despite all my efforts, I was not allowed to experience true ergonomics.
The implementation of ergonomic hardware for left-handers is not impossible, but unfortunately it is absolutely not financially viable. Dedicated left-handed mice mean higher development costs. The same effort has to be made for such a device as for any other mouse, but it generates significantly fewer sales due to the smaller target group. In order to compensate for this deficit, the mouse would have to be sold much more expensive than an equivalent two-handed or right-handed model. This in turn would result in even fewer sales. A vicious circle that only a few gaming brands try to break and a problem that really doesn't surprise me in our economically driven world.
So if you want to complain about first world problems as a left-hander, you will be presented with a few wonderful little injustices in the gaming area. For me the situation as a left-handed gamer is not a drama, just a little annoying at times. Now I even make fun of my funny keyboard layout myself. But sometimes it's just good to complain about the little things in life.
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