The lights are on
Power Member - Level 7
Like many Nintendo gamers, one of my favorite franchises is
The Legend of Zelda series. I played Ocarina of Time when I was only 10 years
old, so it was not hard for me to empathize with the main character. Link begins the game as a shy kid, born into
a microcosm of age-resistant characters.
Not unlike your average child, Link dealt with bullies and experienced
puppy love, making his everyday issues in the Kokiri Forest very relatable. But one often overlooked characteristic connected
with me – Link was a leftie.
That is, until the Wii Zelda games were released. New motion controls dictated that a player
swing the Wii Remote to strike with the in-game sword, but that controller would
most commonly be held in a person’s right hand.
To keep consistent with the player’s movements, the designers announced
Link’s character would be mirrored for the Wii version of Twilight Princess, effectively making the Hero of Time right-handed
(though the GameCube version still honored Link’s southpaw origins). This change remained in Skyward Sword.
This news disappointed me at the time, but mattered little
in the long run. With the exception of
PC gamers that swapped the location of the mouse, left-handed players have had
no choice but to adapt to one control scheme.
Direction pads are on the left, along with triggers for aiming, and the
buttons on the right serve as primary inputs (pick up, jump, reload, shoot,
crouch, etc.). The Wii Remote was truly
the only exception to that rule, as a user could easily switch which hand held
the nunchuk or remote. Yet even when
that opportunity presented itself, developers understandably catered their
design choices to accommodate the nine out of ten right-handed crowd.
Lacking a viable alternative for the majority of my gaming
life makes me wonder if my skills have suffered. If possible, I still depend on my dominant
hand if I’m playing on a console. When a
game requires me to button mash to get out of a sticky situation, I
instinctively let go of the left stick and play the QTE with my left hand. I have also found that while I can get used
to a first-person shooter, I’m often slower at aiming with a right stick and
take time adjusting to the sensitivity.
My left hand’s dexterity easily surpasses my right’s, and while that
does not deter me from investing many hours into Fallout: New Vegas or Grand
Theft Auto V, the disadvantage is present.
Lefties are naturally flexible, however, and have to adjust
to a right-handed layout throughout normal life. In a single day, I might clip a coupon with
right-handed scissors, attend class with my right elbow on the desk's arm rest (and my
left hovering in mid-air), switch gears using my right hand or find ring indentations
on my left wrist from those horrendous spiral notebooks. Any left-handed person will admit that none
of this is a huge deal (okay, maybe the notebooks), but if the left-handed
population was equally split with the right-handed, it would be interesting how
much more choice and sensitivity there would be toward these everyday
On the same token, while I have not tried playing with a
modded left-handed controller, I am resistant to the idea. I’ve easily spent hours of my life playing
console video games and have simply gotten used to the controller layout. You move your character on the left side and
take action with your character on the right side – it’s been the way the world
worked since the earliest arcade machines.
At this point, switching that logic would require some brain training,
and that many hours of nurture would take time to erode. If I got into a car with the parking brake on
the left, or tried opening a can with the crank on the opposite side, the
cognitive dissonance would be overwhelming.
I’m not surprised that first-party console developers have not
created their own left-handed versions of controllers. Most gamers are not only right-handed, but
seasoned and used to a scheme that has worked for years. I also can’t imagine the look of horror on a
right-handed gamer’s face after opening a present from oblivious mom and dad,
who mistakenly purchased a gift tailored to lefties. A significant chunk of the gaming community
has been grandfathered into one structure, but I would be interested in seeing
which controller style a first-time console-gaming leftie would find more
Are you a southpaw console gamer that wonders how a reversed
controller layout would feel? Or are you
a quick-on-the-draw rightie that has a few cents to share on the matter? Let me know in the comments!