You may have not heard it by now, but I kinda love the PlayStation Move. Sure it's derivative, but that's easy to forgive considering how effectively it fulfills the promise of motion controllers that was only hinted at with the Wii. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I went ahead and bought a second Move want in anticipation for The Fight: Lights Out.
For those who don't know, The Fight puts players in the shoes of a filthy bare-knuckle brawler as he viciously punches a bunch of other similarly scummy dudes in various seedy urban locales. The selling point is that the game uses two Move wands—one held in each hand—to transfer real life punches into the game with 1-to-1 accuracy.
For the most part, these controls work…if you're right-handed anyway. For whatever reason, The Fight has no options for a southpaw fighting style. It automatically calibrates into a right-dominate stance every time. Well I'm left-handed, so this just would not do. I got around this for a time by assuming a "normal" stance during calibration, and the switching my footing when the fights started. This wasn't a good solution. While my hands would be in roughly the correct positions, it felt like there wasn't as much oomph behind my punches as there should have been. It seems that since the game was designed solely for the right-handed, there are invisible damage ratios attached to each hand. What this means is that a full-force left-hand punch won't ever do as much as an identical punch delivered with the right. Simply standing in a way that felt comfortable to me came at the expense of full damage output.
This is dumb design for a couple reasons. First of all, the southpaw stance has existed in pugilism since eternity. Secondly, in a game where the actual hand motions of the player are directly translated into the game, there is no excuse for an entire team of developers to forget that left-handed people exist. I mean, wasn't there a single lefty among them?
The Fight isn't alone in it's unfriendliness to left-handed gamers. Style Savvy, a fashion-store sim for the Nintendo DS, is designed to be played while the DS is held like an open book. All of the interaction takes place on the touch screen which, as anyone might have guessed, is on the right side. It would have been easy as pie to simply flip the images on both screens allowing left-handed players to hold the DS in a was that better suited them, but the developers didn't even bother. There is no good justification for this.
Another fun example is The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Link has always been left-handed, just like his famous creator, Shigeru Miyamoto. When Twilight Princess was ported to Wii, the entire world was flipped, including the hero, so that right-handed gamers would be more comfortable. Nevermind that players didn't actually swing the Wiimote like a sword (a little flick was all that was required), Nintendo apparently decided that simply holding a one-handed control device in the left hand was too great of a burden for right-handed gamers to bear. Also nevermind that in every game prior, the actions of Link's left hand were dictated by commands issued on the right side of every controller since the NES. While this particular game didn't present much of a control barrier to left-handed gamers, it's still interesting that once motion got involved gaming's most prominent (only?) lefty got the ax.
This might sound like a lot of whining over nothing. After all, I've been coping with right-biased control schemes for my entire gaming career. Besides, there are gamers with actual disabilities who have to overcome more onerous challenges than I have ever dealt with. If anything, that's exactly why this issue deserves attention. Accommodating left-handed gamers like myself is practically the smallest, easiest step developers can take to being just a tiny bit more inclusive. When—after decades of game development—designers still can't even be bothered with that, it doesn't bode well for anyone else.
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