Today, video games are universally accepted as part of daily culture. As shared on The Drum, family gaming in the United States (US) is fast becoming a norm, citing a study conducted by in-game advertising company Anzu.
With over 3 billion gamers worldwide, almost every household has at least 1 video game enthusiast at home. This means that gamers come from all ages and demographics, including left-handers.
Based on an in-depth research, around 10% to 12% of the world population is believed to be left-handed, showing how rare and niche this segment is in the video games industry. As a result, lefties are usually forgotten about in video game design, leading to the creation of games that predominantly cater to right-handers instead.
So how do left-handed gamers adapt to an industry that mostly marginalizes them? Well, let me explain.
How to Play PC Games using the Left Hand
Successful Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) pros, Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and Özgür “woxic” Eker, prove that lefties can also dominate in video games. Although not every left-handed gamer is cut out for the competitive scene, casual players can still make do by adjusting their playing style:
- Use specialized gaming peripherals/ accessories
- Personalise key bindings
- Practice diligently
- Adopt a strong mentality
Being a right-handed gamer myself, I tried playing a few non-ranked Valorant matches using my left hand to control the mouse (aiming crosshair) to test how hard it actually is. Unsurprisingly, it was a nightmare, having all the movement controls and aiming coordination flipped around.
Use specialized gaming peripherals/ accessories
Out of the global video game populace, a huge majority identify as right-handers, with a very small section considered ambidextrous. As a result, the current PC gaming market is righty-centric.
That being said, some companies have made efforts to accommodate left-handed gamers for PC, such as DSI with its Left-Handed USB Keyboard. Specialized gaming equipment becomes necessary for lefties to balance the playing field when competing against other ‘normal’ players in multiplayer games.
The only real downside to this is that customized gaming peripherals for lefties usually cost more than the standard versions. Few manufacturers are willing to inject additional budget to build them, noting the minimal profits they would make to satisfy the few left-handed gamers in the world.
Only a select few brands are willing to do so, making left-handed gaming gear rarer and more expensive. Famous PC-accessory companies like Logitech®, Razer™, and Corsair are among them, offering impressive gaming mice for lefties to enjoy.
Here are some of the best-suggested computer mice that allow left-handers and ambidextrous gamers to play games comfortably:
As a long-time user of Razer products, I can personally vouch for the Razer Naga Left-Handed Edition gaming mice. It’s big, heavy, and premium to the touch, with numbered keys arranged to the side for easy, instant clicks – a crucial feature to play MMORPGs.
Gaming keyboards are also highly recommended, assisting left-handed gamers with quicker keystrokes and minimal distractions. These are a few solid gaming keyboards to consider:
Personalise key bindings
Left-handers can still play games using common keyboards, mice, and controllers albeit in a different way – remapping in-game key binds.
Essentially, left-handed gamers need to change keyboard keys or controller buttons around to achieve a more convenient layout or setup that they are familiar with.
This is a tedious one-time process – gamers need to launch the game for the first time and reassign all the necessary controls and keys to the desired configurations. This can take from as little as a few minutes to as long as an hour depending on the number of keys in question.
Not only that, this process needs to be repeated for EVERY game, though it only needs to be done once and saved permanently afterward. However, it creates an extra barrier and hassle that limits the fun and excitement for left-handed players in general.
The most common key changes that lefties usually opt for are:
Nevertheless, these differ according to individual, and even more unique key layouts might exist for left-handed players out there. There is no single rule for how key mappings should work for lefty gamers, so everyone is free to create their own.
Here’s an example of how Fortnite left-handed player, SAYGOzi, sets up his personal key bindings:
Different games might also require different key bindings according to the gameplay systems and mechanics. For instance, StarCraft 2 left-handed pro, Johan “NaNiwa” Lucchesi, has his own personal keyboard layout that helps him play the game at his best.
Changing key mappings according to a player’s personal style and preference is the simplest yet most annoying solution there is for left-handed gamers, but it works 100% of the time.
Even though left-dominant gamers prefer to use their primary hand for many activities, some have already acclimatized themselves to using their right hand to control the mice while gaming on PC. After all, that’s how they’re used to using the computer while growing up.
When playing single-player games by themselves, this isn’t a problem. Things become slightly handicapped when they start competing against other players online.
As theScore esports sums it up about the left-handed issues in video games:
(Source: theScore esports)
With limited support to allow lefties to game to their full potential, aspiring pro gamers eventually opt for different methods to reduce the disadvantage. They may either ‘git gud’ playing with their right hand or utilize customized setups to accommodate their left-handedness, but it eventually falls down to one basic secret: tons of dedicated practice.
I know, I know, it isn’t exactly a secret. Still, it’s the truth. After years of being forced to familiarise themselves with right-handed PC layouts, many gamers might need to retune themselves to playing games using their dominant left hand.
Even with the perfect lefty setup, players still need time to adapt and train diligently to overcome that particular mental mind block. This usually means a short period of transitioning before they are confident enough to jump back into competitive multiplayer games again.
There’s no need to fret, though. Once they are up to speed, lefties are known to perform much better in video games than their right-handed counterparts, as found by a previous psychological study.
Adopt a strong mentality
Since left-handed gamers are considered a small minority of the general video game player base, certain expectations need to change.
New left-handed players require more time to adjust their aim than the standard gamer in First-Person Shooters (FPSs). Casual left-handers might also mix up button combos more frequently when playing fighting games like Mortal Kombat™ or Tekken™ unless using specialized gaming sticks.
Sadly, nobody cares about the other players’ handedness in any online game as long as everyone keeps their team scores high. Even if you feel like you’re at a disadvantage by playing the game using your left hand, no one will give you a pass for making mistakes, especially when everyone is vying for the win.
To become a better left-handed player, it’s all about adopting a strong mentality to overcome all the potential challenges waiting ahead. In the video games industry, things were always going to be tougher for left-handers directly from the start.
Mental strength is an important element that many people seem to underestimate. A previous study showed that left-handed individuals are more competitive than others, meaning they have a stronger drive to succeed.
This innate advantage helps lefties excel further in video games than many other players, and a never-give-up attitude is exactly what’s needed for left-handers to grow above today’s toxic online video game environment.
In general, many surprising takes about left-handed individuals play a part in how lefties cope with their video game struggles. That being said, certain supportive measures like customized gaming accessories and added in-game features do come a long way to easing them into the industry.
Video games are no longer a taboo to be discussed in today’s modern society. With just a little bit more push from big companies and reputable players in the business, we might see more left-handed pro gamers dominating the competitive scenes, especially in the near future.
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