The Southpaw Manifesto

It is time once again to take a brief aside from the legal commentary to address an issue that I believe needs addressing, that issue being customizable controls. Specifically, I’m speaking to the ongoing issue of the use of thumbsticks in First Person Shooter titles. Before getting into my “manifesto,” a little background.

I, like many other gamers, logged an untold number of hours in Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64, and I, like many others, found it far easier to aim with the only analog stick on the N64 controller, which was used with your left hand. Perhaps it was from the years of using my left hand to control the D-Pad or perhaps it was just easier to aim with an analog stick. As time passed and the dual analog stick controller was released, these hours of play translated to what is known as the “southpaw” control style, where the left stick looks and the right stick moves the player. I’ve tried to play with both the “standard” and the “legacy” styles, but neither feel as natural. In fact, my reflexes default to southpaw, even though I’m right handed. It’s just how I play.

It is unfortunate, then, when a AAA title is released with no southpaw support. Most notably, I’m looking at Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and now, BioShock and Stranglehold. Given that this control style (if not complete customization) is offered by other titles, I see no reason for a developer to leave it out. I greatly appreciate companies like id, Epic, Bungie, Free Radical, Insomniac, Rare, and many others for including the southpaw option in most, if not all, of their games. For others who play as I do, ALT + CNTRL + GMR has lists for both 360 and PS3 control availability.

With that in mind, I give you the Southpaw Manifesto (which can also be adopted by any other alternative control users).

The SouthPaw Manifesto

Be it known that there are gamers who do not use the default control stick layout for First Person Shooter games, and as such, will not play those games which cannot be controlled as we desire. In this day and age, it is not asking much to include the most common alternative thumbstick layouts in a console first person shooter title. These layouts have existed for years, and have been implemented by the overwhelming majority of titles. As such, we, the users of different control styles, state the following:

We will not purchase a title which does not have our control style available. We will not purchase games with the mere promise of a patch to address the issue.

We will not “learn” another control style. No developer has taken a racing game, made the right stick steer, and told the public to “learn” that control style.

We welcome games that take a wholly different approach, such as the Metroid Prime series and Resident Evil 4. We have no issue with games taking new approaches to controlling altogether.

We acknowledge that a lot of hard work goes into making the games we love, and we appreciate the developers for their work. However, we don’t feel that we’re asking much to be able to experience the game in the way we are most comfortable.

We want to play and enjoy your games, so please include the normal alternative control styles.

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About Mark Methenitis

Mark Methenitis is an attorney in Dallas Texas. Mark received his Juris Doctorate and his Master of Business Administration from Texas Tech University and his Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas.

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