WASD, Arrow Keys or HJKL?

The other day I saw this:

WASD vs Arrows
author unknown

I decided we need to have a showdown. Which is your favorite movement key combination for gaming and/or text editing?

Favorite Keys
View Results

While we are at it, here is something that kinda bothers me. Do left handed gamers still use WASD? It would seem kinda uncomfortable to have both hands all the way on the left side of the keyboard, and have the wrong hand operating the keys (cause even if you are left handed, your left hand still works the keys left of the home row). Any left handed gamers who read this blog?

Do you guys re-map the keys to something else, learn how to use WASD with your right hand, or do you learn to use mouse in your right hand when you play games? Also, if you use the mouse with your left hand, do you usually swap the keys so that you have the RMB equivalent under the index finger?

It got me thinking because a lot of games don’t even offer this option which kinda sucks from the accessibility point of view.

[tags]wasd, arrow keys, hjkl, numpad, accessibility, left handed, reversing mouse buttons[/tags]

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to WASD, Arrow Keys or HJKL?

  1. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Solaris Terminalist says:

    Wow! I was expecting to be the only one voting for HJKL.

    Long live vi! :-D

    Reply  |  Quote
  2. Pingback: Jan-Piet Mens / Arrow keys, or HJKL ? GERMANY WordPress

  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    While I expected HJKL to lag behind other choices, I figured it will beat the numpad keys since it would surely get votes from vi enthusiasts. :)

    I’m glad to see there are at least 3 hard core vi users reading this blog.

    Reply  |  Quote
  4. EmbersFire IRELAND Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    For gaming, I use S/ALT for up/down and Z/X for strafe left/right
    The arrow keys I still use for text editing and pretty much everything else

    Reply  |  Quote
  5. Jake UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I like Arrow Keys and the numpad keys the best. Unfortunately, I don’t usually feel like plugging in my external numpad for my laptop, so a lot of time it isn’t worth the effort.

    Reply  |  Quote
  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Wow, interesting. I never encountered this combination for gaming. Actually it seems like a more natural and comfortable position for your hand to hug the corner like that, rather than to sit on WASD.

    Reply  |  Quote
  7. Jake UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    @Luke Maciak: Exactly. I like my fingers being where they aren’t as likely to hit other keys by default. Also, I’ve played some games in the past that allow you to use the 1, 3, 7, and 9 as SW, SE, NW, and NE keys.

    Reply  |  Quote
  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    @Jake – I was actually responding to EmbersFire but your post jumped in first. LOL

    Personally, I’m a WASD person when it comes to gaming. The numpad is just on the wrong side of keyboard for me since I operate my mouse with my right hand.

    Reply  |  Quote
  9. Jake UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    @Luke Maliak: Oh okay. I just assumed you were responded to me. Sorry about the confusion. :) Anyway, I can use the mouse with both hands (not much else) and I usually use the touchpad on my laptop, so for me it is more or less irrelevant.

    Reply  |  Quote
  10. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    @Jake – that’s actually pretty cool! I can’t really mouse with my left hand. It just feels weird. I read something recently that said that practicing using mouse with your non-dominant hand is good for your brain. :)

    Reply  |  Quote
  11. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    My right hand is my mousin’ hand, so the hand on the keyboard wants to be over to the left, so it’s WASD for me

    Becomes more important when on a laptop – to have my left hand on the arrow keys I have to reach under the hand on the touch pad, which I have to do for one online game, but wouldn’t want to do for any length of time

    HJKL feels un-natural.. my fingers are different lengths but the keys are all in a row..

    On the other hand (pun intended) when the mouse isn’t required I probably favour the arrow keys – sat conveniently under my right hand

    So I guess the rule is that my main hand wants to be on the main controls :mrgreen:

    Reply  |  Quote
  12. Matthew UNITED STATES Netscape Navigator says:

    I’m a lefty, I got used to hjkl from not only vim, but nethack. However, if it’s going to be a pain in the ass to remap a huge number of keys, I’ll just swap mouse hands. As far as changing the behavior of the mouse buttons, I personally don’t as I remember the behavior of the buttons pressed as opposed to which fingers produce which results.

    Reply  |  Quote
  13. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    As must as I’d like to say I learned hjkl from Vi, honestly I think Nethack had more to do with it. Long live Nethack!

    Reply  |  Quote
  14. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Oh, I forgot about nethack. Though I distinctly remember using arrows for that game back in the day.

    Actually, Nethack for WinCE was the killer app for my Dell Axim pocket pc. That and Pocket Gnu Go got me through all the boring gen-ed electives in college. :mrgreen:

    And yes, playing that game with a stylus was a bit weird at first, but you got used to it after a while.

    Reply  |  Quote
  15. Geoff CANADA Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux says:

    I’m left handed. I use the left mouse button for move forward and the right button for move back. a and s for strafing left and right, shift to fire, d to crouch, usually x for use and the other keys surrounding asdf for whatever else. I just can’t wrap my brain around using the mouse buttons to shoot (or do anything but move back or forth really).

    Reply  |  Quote
  16. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Interesting. For me mouse shooting seems natural. Go figure. :)

    Reply  |  Quote
  17. ExxonValdeez UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux says:

    I actually expected the HJKL keys to score higher because of the Vi users out there. Still going strong though. I don’t play many games anyway so the keys are used primarily for editing. There is a Firefox plugin for Vim keybindings but I don’t use it. Anyway, in the words of some famous Linux persona, “Give me Vi or give me death.”

    Reply  |  Quote
  18. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I suspected that WASD will have a big lead over all the other choices because there are so many gamers out there. There are definitely more gamers out there than people who use HJKL with vi.

    Reply  |  Quote
  19. "Pingu" Tikka FINLAND Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Gaming – that’s not my stuff. But as for text editing – what’s wrong with ^b ^f ^p and ^n. That was not even an option on the poll.

    Reply  |  Quote
  20. Sprogz UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I’m a gamin’ leftie and am driven insane by always having to map the multitude of keys needed by today’s FPS games. Forwards, backwards, left, right, jump, crouch, prone, reload, shoot, change weapons (quickly)…

    I have the mouse in my left-hand but don’t re-map the buttons, LMB shoots (clicked with my left-hand middle finger) and RMB is usually zoom (like aiming down a sniper rifle scope, etc) pressed with my index finger.

    Typically arrow keys to replace WASD, CTRL to run, shift to crouch. End (directly above up arrow on my keyboard) is USE (for any kind of in-game interaction, open doors, etc). Usually, any keys on the keypad I can reach with my right-hand pinky for switching weapons, flashlights, med-packs, et. al.

    Return/enter to jump.

    Call of Duty 2 (if I remember correctly) felt best for me as I was able to map changing stance up/down to the mouse wheel. Mouse wheel up went from prone to crouch to stand and mouse wheel down from stand to prone to crouch. It felt very natural.

    I’ve tried mousing with my right hand and using WASD – it would sure make getting into a new game that much easier but I am just useless with that configuration.

    My brother uses LMB/RMB for forwards/backwards like someone else here. It seems really weird NOT using the mouse to shoot but maybe it’s something else to try.

    Reply  |  Quote
  21. Alexander Heß GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I use ESDF for gaming which has no option in your poll. :-(

    [b]Why ESDF and not WASD?[/b]

    Easy: Using ESDF gives you a “circle” of other keys around your movement keys (RTGBVCXYAQW) which can be mapped for direct weapon selection or other actions.

    Reply  |  Quote
  22. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @Alexander -actually, that’s a good idea. I never thought about using ESDF but it does give you more keys for mapping additional functions. I might need to try this out one day.

    Reply  |  Quote
  23. Richard NEW ZEALAND Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I’m a leftie through and through. I conditioned myself to use the keyboard and mouse right-handed and that was fine for everyday computing and single player gaming. But I do a fair bit of online multiplayer gaming with COD4 and Crysis Wars. And this is where I was at a disadvantage. Multiplayer success is (amongst other things) about quick reactions, as soon as you see your opponent you have to be fast with aiming and firing, and this is where the right hand set up sucked…for me. Fast reactions and accurate aiming requires most coordinated/dominant hand to be the one controlling the mouse and I was controlling that with my weak right hand. It didn’t help that I’ve broken my right wrist (and only my right never my stronger and more coordinated left) repeatedly from playing rugby. I switched my keyboard/mouse around to a left hand setup (left hand holding the mouse, right button to click and left button to right click). After some practice to get used to the new set up my online gaming performance increased dramatically. I now do all my general computer work and gaming using a left hand setup and see no reason to go back. It feels so natural.

    Reply  |  Quote
  24. I learned HJKL from playing NetHack (so throw in YUBN diagonals too), so that’s my vote. I’m an Emacs person, though, so I use C-n, C-p, C-f, C-b combos, and their meta counterparts, when text editing.

    Reply  |  Quote
  25. Luke Petticrew Google Chrome Windows says:

    I’m left handed, and I use WASD with my left hand and use the mouse with my right, no problems.

    Reply  |  Quote
  26. TechnoSarge UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ Sprogz:
    I am another gaming southpaw. I set up very similar to Sprogz. I mouse with right hand and use inverted T arrow keys for my movements. I’ve been doing this 10 years at least, and it’s very natural.

    The isolation from other keys is important because I am not a touch typist and would have to look down to center over WASD if I used them. The arrow keys automatically guide me by their group shape.

    I’ve worn out two keyboards this way… for gaming! (The first one, I actually wore a hole through the tops of the keys – s’true! I have a picture!) But wearing out the arrow keys doesn’t mean the keyboard must be trashed, as I can use the alphabetic keys fine… on another computer I don’t game on.

    Reply  |  Quote

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *