What's wrong with using the arrow keys?

Sep 25, 2020
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The thread title might be a bit misleading. I'm just not quite certain how I could phrase it better, given the scenario at hand.

All my life, I've used the arrow keys in my right hand to control games, all while sporting a trackball in the left hand. It's an ambidextrous one because there aren't really left-handed trackballs for some reason. Hecc, I'm not even left-handed! I just value the arrow keys so, so much more than the handedness of my trackball.

Basically what I want to know is, if you're using WASD, can you reach more keys with your left hand (Assuming you're using the left hand, anyway... Probably.) than with your right hand on the arrow keys?

With my right hand on the arrow keys, I can -easily- reach everything from the Space Bar to Keypad-Enter, and Backspace and Keypad Minus. There is also the luxury of distinctly feeling the shape of each of those keys with your fingers. I have "Quicksave" bound to KP+ and "Quickload" bound to KP-. There is a very easy difference in tactile feedback between the shapes of those keys, so I don't accidentally quicksave after failing a pickpocket in Skyrim or something. Imagine accidentally hitting F5 instead of F6 if those are bound to quicksave/load? (It's probably why F9 is quickload instead.)

So why do you enjoy WASD? How do you get over all of the alphabet and numerical keys all being the same size?
 
Prior to the Unreal tournament days (so 1999ish) i always played with arrow keys as well. years of playing old school FPS games made me think it was the right way to play. I mean, if i used WASD the risk of miss pressing keys or fumbling with the keys was great.

But after playing the Unreal tournament demo for less then 15 minutes it all clicked and made sense. It was intuitive, problems with me using the arrow keys disappeared, i had more space and access to more stuff. Ever since then i never looked back.

Interestingly, i have some one at work who is right handed, but uses the mouse left handed. As to why, she said she simply learnt to work that way. it made me wonder in what situation that forced a person to train herself to work that way. Its certainly just easier to just tell the facilities manager that your work station was not suitable and needed to be addressed. The same way if you needed a foot stool, adjustable arms for monitors or a different chair to avoid risk and injury.
 
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I am able to reach what i want using WASD, i have used arrow keys before but it just feels awkward to me, im sure it works really great for some of you but its just really weird for me.
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
Jan 14, 2020
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Using arrow keys is good in old FPS games, which didn't have mouse look. They do their job also in RTSs It's hard for me to imagine using them in a modern FPS. WSAD is more intuitive for left hand. Using the arrow keys along with mouse feels just bad in my opinion. They're too close to themselves. I have a gaming keyboard and WSAD keys differ from other, so it's even more intuitive to use them. It has became a standard and there are even RTSs and RPGs that use WSAD keys for camera control.
 
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May 5, 2020
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It matters on the Game.

But the most obvious issue is Arrow keys have no nearby keys.
But if you have a mouse with like 6 buttons it is "less" of an issue but issue still exists.

Complicated games like MMOs \ High Simulation Games ( X3 series \ Arma \ etc ) require a ton of keys that are easy to access. By using WSAD you essentially have access to a combination of 30+ keys because many games allow you to Combine 2 keys ( shift + x, alt + x, control + x )

So in the end of the day it really matters on the game it self.

If the game requires very few keys like Overwatch it isn't a issue.
If it game requires a few keys more having a MultiButton mouse can compensate.

if you are running a High Key style game its not going to work out well.
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
Used to be IJKM way back in the day. I wasn't happy moving it over to WASD and re-mapped a few games before biting the bullet and learning the "new way" where "down" was in the middle.

You bind QuickLoad? I bind that to nothing. I'm more likely to accidentally hit it than use it. It's not that I don't re-load often, it's just that re-loading normally takes enough time that I would rather bring up the list and pick out the one I want to re-load.
 
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The thread title might be a bit misleading. I'm just not quite certain how I could phrase it better, given the scenario at hand.

All my life, I've used the arrow keys in my right hand to control games, all while sporting a trackball in the left hand. It's an ambidextrous one because there aren't really left-handed trackballs for some reason. Hecc, I'm not even left-handed! I just value the arrow keys so, so much more than the handedness of my trackball.

Basically what I want to know is, if you're using WASD, can you reach more keys with your left hand (Assuming you're using the left hand, anyway... Probably.) than with your right hand on the arrow keys?

With my right hand on the arrow keys, I can -easily- reach everything from the Space Bar to Keypad-Enter, and Backspace and Keypad Minus. There is also the luxury of distinctly feeling the shape of each of those keys with your fingers. I have "Quicksave" bound to KP+ and "Quickload" bound to KP-. There is a very easy difference in tactile feedback between the shapes of those keys, so I don't accidentally quicksave after failing a pickpocket in Skyrim or something. Imagine accidentally hitting F5 instead of F6 if those are bound to quicksave/load? (It's probably why F9 is quickload instead.)

So why do you enjoy WASD? How do you get over all of the alphabet and numerical keys all being the same size?
How do I get over the alphabet and numerical keys being the same size? I don't feel them to see what size they are. I just know where the keys are naturally. It's the same as typing. If you were typing out a letter, and assuming you know how to type, you wouldn't look at or feel the keys. You'd just type.

WASD is superior in the sense that there are many more useful keys around it, including underneath. And I'm 50 years old, so I've played my fair share of games with the arrow keys.
 
Apr 4, 2020
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I always use arrow keys and keyboard. I never had a gamepad, and I'll probably never use one. Even with race games like Need For Speed, I use the arrow keys. The only exception are flightsims, then I'll use my joystick. It's an old habbit. I've been doing this since the early 90's, so... The first time I used WASD was with Mortal Kombat. One guy had to use one side of the keyboard, the other could use the arrow keys. But even then, it took some years for single player games switching from arrow to WASD. I remember playing Half-Life and Unreal with arrow keys. I guess I started using WASD somewhere around 15 years ago.
 

Dan

Moderator
Jan 15, 2020
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I would always use arrow keys in the 90s, but I think that controls were much simpler back then - there wasn't a button to lean or a Q button that allows you to swap to the last used weapon.
 
Oct 8, 2020
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I'm lefthanded and also (still) use the arrow keys - for everything. I remember an article of Wes Fenlon about using WASD wrong his whole life (I've somehow been WASDing wrong my whole life) and I think my right hand on the arrow keys is even weirder.

Equally weird is how I use the mouse with my left hand: the buttons are default right handed so my left hand middle finger is on the left button and index on the right button. So I'm shooting with my middle finger an basically give everyone 'the finger' all the time.

My right hand:
ARROW LEFT = index finger
ARROW UP / DOWN= middle finger
ARROW RIGHT = ring finger

NUMERICAL KEYS = pinky and ring
INSERT, HOME, PAGEUP/DOWN etc. (above arrow keys) = middle finger and ring finer
SHIFT R = index with middle finger taking over ARROW LEFT
ALT, CTRL = thumb and/or index
M, I or TAB (opening maps and inventory and stuff) = I use my left hand, leaving the mouse unguarded

I-- I'm... lost. Thinking about it makes my head hurt. It just works for me. Often my fingers are doing Jean-Claude van Damme splits. Overall I'm really out of shape, but my right hand fingers are Olympic gymnasts :sweatsmile:
 
Jun 6, 2020
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I always uses E,S,D,F when possible. One shifted to the left of WASD. That I believe gives me the benefit of Q and W, along with R as reload. Plus, more number/f-keys seem in reach.

It's frustrating when a game doesn't allow re-mapping or the re-mapping is simply painful.
 

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