Jump to content

You ever wonder why the directional control is on the left?


RickR

Recommended Posts

With my apologies to any left-handed readers.

 

But have you ever wondered why gamepads have the directional control on the left?  On the Atari 2600, the joystick had the player control direction with their right hand, and push the button with the left.  This was pretty much the standard, although many systems had buttons on both sides so you could use either hand (Intellivision, Colecovision, 5200, etc).  Myself, I've always been better controlling direction with my right, probably from hours spend playing 2600, 8-bit, and Commodore computer games. 

 

This Wikipedia article pins the blame on Nintendo:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamepad

 

The Famicom was also the first home system to put the directional control on the left. While many arcade systems had the directional control joystick on the left of the buttons, most home systems of the era used joysticks designed for right-handed operation. The division has continued to this day, with computer joysticks typically being designed for use in the right hand with gamepads and arcade joysticks favoring the left hand.

 

But I think the Vectrex controller went this route earlier than that. 

 

And the left-handed directional control lives on to this day on the very latest consoles.  No choice. 

 

What do you all think?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting theory, I always remember using left hand from directional control even when offered another option in arcades (galaga, pacman, etc).  The plight of leftys hasn't gone noticed in the post nintendo era, though. I've seen custom left handed xbox controllers, left handed joysticks for Sega consoles, and the Wii doesn't seem to care if one is left or right handed thanks to their nunchuck+remote combo. 

"Mmmrrrrrrhhhh.....game.....gooooood....."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some early retail home gaming machines/devices/systems to put directional control on the left-hand side:

 

Coleco "Electronic Quarterback" handheld: 1978 (kinda sorta: up/down only)

Entex Select-a-Game: 1981 (first true 4-directional control on left?)

Coleco Donkey Kong Tabletop/Mini-Arcade: 1982 (first kinda popular thing?)

Nintendo Donkey Kong (Game & Watch): June 3, 1982 (first widely popular thing?  first to use the "cross" D-pad, for sure...)

GCE Vectrex: November 1982 (first game console?)

Nintendo Famicom: July 15, 1983 (first widely popular game console?)

 

Given that two of these things are Donkey Kong-related, and given that the arcade version (July 1981) also featured a joystick on the left, I do wonder if Donkey Kong isn't the main driving force behind the establishment of directional controls on the left-hand side.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to admit that my first NES in 1987 made me question the controls.  Like many other pre-NES gamers I was use to controlling the direction on a joystick controller with my right hand and firing with my left.  But the NES controller actually felt natural the first time.  Since I only had Gyromite and Duck Hunt to start with my bellying up to the NES game pads didn't come until a month or two later.  Those NES game pads are still my favorite game pad-style controllers to this day.  My favorite joystick controller is the 5200 controllers and my favorite analog controllers are the original issue controllers for the Dreamcast.  I've never had those analog sticks wear out like those on the N64, PlayStation, and XBOX consoles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Join the Atari Party! :donkey_kong_big:

    How lucky are you that you've finally found this place?
    It's time to join the best kept secret in classic gaming.
    Membership is limited, so let's get started! :wreck-it-ralph:

     

×
×
  • Create New...