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Ask Slashdot: Gaming With Only One Hand? 221

Hork_Monkey writes "I recently sustained a severe injury to one of my arms, and am lucky not to be an amputee. I'm an avid gamer (primarily PC, but also XBox) and looking for advice one how to adapt to the challenge now presented of enjoying one of my favorite pastimes. My google-fu has led me to some devices and tips, but I wanted to tap the collective while experimenting. I know there have to be some readers in similar positions who could provide some guidance. I'm figuring a few things out, and also hope to share what I find for others in a similar situation."
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Ask Slashdot: Gaming With Only One Hand?

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  • by SquarePixel ( 1851068 ) * on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:25PM (#41422585)

    It's the most fun a guy can have with one hand.

  • by synir ( 731266 ) <arkandel@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:28PM (#41422609)
    Well, Slashdot is a good authority in one-handed computer use.
  • Why use any hands? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by decibel.places ( 1753472 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:30PM (#41422619)
    Emotiv technology lets you game hands free (someday) http://emotiv.com/ [emotiv.com]
    • I saw this and it looked like a gimmick. Have you used it? If so, how effective is it? Does it work for. Things more complicated than pong?

      Thanks for the info.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I saw this and it looked like a gimmick. Have you used it? If so, how effective is it? Does it work for. Things more complicated than pong?

        Hello there. I saw your [the original OP's] question and thought I could step in and answer this.

        Speaking as professional in the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) field, experienced with both consumer and medical/research grade EEG hardware, I can unequivocally say that no, neither the Emotiv headset nor the latest cutting edge five-figure-plus hardware is or ever will replace a joystick for gaming when it comes to responsiveness, fine control, or accuracy.

        That said, BCI is not a gimmick. There are very specif

        • by Cycon ( 11899 )
          hmm. Not sure why that posted anonymously, but please feel free to message me if you have any questions about BCI. Cheers
          • Very cool information. I'm also epileptic, so I'm fairly familiar with EEG's (at least from having them done on me).

            I've read that ECoG's are being tested in prosthesis, which is very cool. I would think that a less invasive alternative (BCI is one, correct?) would become available before "brain implants" would be offered to the general public. The challenge as I understand it is regarding the sensitivity of the sensors, as well as the signal-to-noise ratio. Is there alot of development in this area,
  • An idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:32PM (#41422631)
    First, sorry for your injury. I know little about electronic gaming with injuries and I wish you luck with it. But you may want to consider pen and paper and/or board gaming a a well. With the right group it can be great.
    • Nothing to add, but what a great idea. In fact it's advice I should probably take.
    • Good call. I haven't played pen and paper RPG's since I was a kid. I need to find a group, though. Any recommendations on that? Meetup.com maybe?

      Thanks for the info.
      • by dtolman ( 688781 )
        Check boardgamegeek.com for local gaming groups in your area. Almost everyone city or county has one...
      • by Gryle ( 933382 )
        I'm in a highly mobile occupation so I find myself having to move new cities every few years and finding new gaming groups can be a challenge. Aside from meetup, I believe Wizards of the Coast has a game-finder on their website, as does the White Wolf website (the company behind WoD, Exalted, and others). Another possibility is OktakuBooty. It was originally a dating site for geeks (seriously), but it's branch out into a social hub of sorts. It's a paid website and I haven't used it since my gift subscripti
  • by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:35PM (#41422667)

    Given PC gaming, pure keyboard play is difficult as is switching, unless you're playing something like Civ V. A lot of people who play MMOs have these supermice with 10 keys on them and that's probably going to be your best bet.

    For example, http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-mice/mmog-mice [razerzone.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've gotten a lot more mileage out of the Logitech version than the Razers. The 12 thumb buttons are broken up into two distinct sets of six. It's not visibly all that significant but for keeping track physically of what button you're about to push I've found it invaluable. The Razers have the 12 button set as a single flat bay which makes it difficult for me to tell on the inner buttons which exact one I'm about to push unless I'm keeping very careful track of where my thumb is.


      • I'll check this out.

        Thanks for the info.
        • Not a gamer but I use a Logitech G700 to browse with - you really can get about everything done with one, and they can be set to different profiles, even have the profiles only work when a given app is selected. Big downside is that the battery constantly needs recharging. With the G700 you have four on the side and 4 on top - it might suit your needs better, or be less confusing, if you find that big cluster of buttons on the G600 baffling. G700's a tad more expensive, I see.

  • Possibilities (Score:5, Informative)

    by werewolf1031 ( 869837 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:37PM (#41422689)

    Without knowing which arm has been disabled, it's tough to offer specific advice, so I'll just shotgun some ideas here.

    First, assuming you can still use a right-handed mouse, might I suggest the Logitech G600. It's got tons of buttons, which assuming your right arm is the functional one, can help fill in a lot of gaps with some creative mouse button configuration. And before anyone cries foul, yes, it IS superior to the Naga which it obviously borrows its design from; I own and have thoroughly used both. The G600's software is also superior.

    For left-handed use, either the Razer Nostromo or Logitech G13 gamepads. I have both, and while Logitech's offering has a lot more extra buttons, I find the Nos to be generally more useful with its scroll wheel and more ergonomic feel, while the G13's advantages are more buttons and a true anolog stick (though in a very awkward position, unlike the Nos' more comfortable d-pad). The Nos also has an adjustable palm rest unlike the G13.

    Those are off the top of my head, and granted are only mainstream devices and not anything specifically made for the disabled, but I hope I've helped, or at least given a direction to pursue further. Best of luck with the gaming! :)

    • How serious is the injury? Can you use your fingers on that arm at all? I've had surgery on both shoulders and have had my arms immobilized for 6 weeks both times. I've found that most computer games are tricky with your arm in a sling. However it's not too bad to use gaming controllers with it tight against your chest. However if you have lost all use of your hand then these mice listed above are your best bet. I can use most mice with either hand, though the multi button gaming mice are a bit awkward with
      • It's not clear he's even reading this. At that point, we're talking to each other, few of which need our advice we're offering. I suddenly caught on to that in one of the last Ask Slashdots, the one about freelancing IT. The Asker never appeared in the thread. Hork_Monkey hasn't yet appeared in this one either.

        (Dice company, what if you made a rule that the Ask Slashdot submitter has to reply to his thread?)

        • by Hork_Monkey ( 580728 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @05:05PM (#41423619)
          Dude- I stepped away from the computer for a few hours.

          I am reading it, and I appreciate the feedback so far. In case you haven't read, it's a little hard for me to type so I can't respond to everything.
          • Sorry for the snarky reply. I should have waited before responding like an ass.

            You made valid points regarding Ask Slashdot. I've seen it myself as well, and it's annoying. ,
            • Hello!

              Not counting the amusing time that I spent half of high school with an arm in a cast because of a strange break in my arm, in your honor and pulling some gamey-science flair, I am typing this reply one handed with a stopwatch going.

              I am happy to update your status in a quick-dirty little study I did a couple of hours ago!

              Quickly created on 9-22-2012
              Ask Slashdot: Gaming With Only One Hand? Hork_Monkey IN THREAD - YAY!!!!

              Ask Slashdot: Hearing Aids That Directly Connect To Smart Phones? mt

              • Ha! I appreciate the token of honor. I'm actually spending more time on my IPad, as it's much easier for one-handed typing. Also, I had to have surgery on both my arms 3 years ago while working on my MBA, so I had some decent practice. I'm trying to look at the bright side of things, so I'm glad I got the practice then, else I'd really be lost. :)

                Thanks for the tips. Outside of another device, I think keyboard remapping will be the most useful. The number pad is close to the mouse, so I can
                • (Heh - Also one handed!)

                  I wager I am a hair faster typing right handed than some, except I got my practice typing with pizza and other yummies in my left hand! : ) It's in fact faster for me than my iPhone because on the iPhone I wrestle with Autocorrect every single word, and it won't leave well enough alone. It's also not possible to do the "click 4 lines up with the mouse to fix the Squiggly warning.

                  Oh, more fun: depending to be sure you don't break a game's rules, maybe consider one of the Macro / hot

          • by cffrost ( 885375 )

            Dude- I stepped away from the computer for a few hours.

            He's gone mad, as well. ;o(

  • The are some pretty good wii games that you can play with one hand, like Umbrella Chronicles. The game walks for you and you basically have to shoot everything. There are a lot o point and click also. You can buy a driving wheel, you will use your feets to press the pedals and drive like a "gangstah" with one hand... good thing you will practice for real driving with one hand.
  • I've gotten so good at one-handed gaming that I'm ready to move on to free-handed gaming in a month or two.
  • I don't know much about disabilities but there are pedals for car games or amps that you should be able to reprogram for fpses.

    • Using pedals is cool for driving or for playing mechwarrior, because you don't need to be able to make the same kind of twitchy motions that you do for playing an FPS.

      I imagine a controller that can read the flex of the wrist, and which has a thumbstick for motion. But I don't know how to propose to build one. You could drive some buttons with your feet, then.

      As an aside, the 360 would be reasonably implemented as a one-hand and feet controller, with the feet operating the shoulder controls.

  • Good luck (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:56PM (#41422807) Homepage

    A few years ago a friend got into a wicked car accident and one of her injuries was a badly messed up left hand.

    A week or two after coming back from the hospital, she ended up MacGyvering her keyboard with guide rails and attaching a pen to a glove to press the keys.

    After a couple weeks of trying to play Quake and Left 4 Dead she concluded her days of twitch shooters were over, but she still managed fairly well with slower paced games.

    Good luck!

    • Discouraging, but realistic. I think I came to that realization, but was hoping for some secret from those "in the know". I'm going to keep on trying, though!
  • Ben Heck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ryzvonusef ( 1151717 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:00PM (#41422831) Journal
  • poker (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bhlowe ( 1803290 )
    If you need to waste hours in front of a screen, try online poker.. Addictive possibly worse for you. Or you could work on your tan, learn to ski, hike, swim, meet women, socialize.. maybe even work on job skills or start a business. (I really don't recommend the poker.)
    • Re:poker (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hork_Monkey ( 580728 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @06:56PM (#41424267)
      Thanks, dude, but I'm married, have a [natural] tan, camp, and even own my own business. Not everyone on here lives in their mom's basement.

      I have other hobbies, but I was looking for advice about how I might continue to play Skyrim, SWTOR, Deus Ex, and other games that I was playing prior to the accident.

      Since you made the assumption that all I do is sit in front of the screen, I'll make the assumption that based on you UID that you're about 20 years old. I live a full life, even though I'm going through some pretty major adjustments with it. If I'm right about your age, you haven't even begun to figure yourself out yet, much less experienced 1/4 of the things you recommended. Even if I'm wrong, I do/have done everything you listed, except ski. Even the addiction part- I haven't had a drink in 5 years, and haven't had any blow in 22.

      Maybe you intended to be helpful (I doubt it), but you come across like a complete dick.
      • by bhlowe ( 1803290 )
        Sorry that came out wrong. In retrospect, I should have just said, don't take up online poker.. its an easy transition from computer games and can be played with one hand.. but it is a bad idea. Wastes time. Wastes money. Bad idea and plenty of better things to do. FYI, I too am married, with kids, own my own business.. and much older than you thought. Take care..
        • Well, I know better than to go off based on a single response on the internet as well. Its too hard to get context.

          After your clarification, yes- that's some good advice. Inside and outside of recovery, I've seen alot of people fall with internet gambling. And online cards is an easy way to kill some time. Add in a bit of money, and bad things always seem to happen.

          I also see your advice was based on your experience. It looks like we both live full lives, and it is a nice thing to wish others th
  • I'm pleasantly surprised there were some comments that didn't involve hints about masturbation...
  • by QuantumMist ( 2463834 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:12PM (#41422905)
    The field you want, in general, is called accessibility. I tell you that so it can help your Google and other searches. I encourage you to reach out to the organizations listed on this Wikipedia page. I know some of them personally as I'm blind and a PhD student in computer science and an accessibility researcher, so I'll be more than happy to perform introductions on LinkedIn, email, twitter, whatever you like, just let me know. Here's the Wikipedia page listing some organizations. I'd start with Able Gamers. Mark's a good guy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_accessibility [wikipedia.org] Next, I'd encourage you to get on twitter, if that's possible. I can connect you to tons of folks to cover everything from one handed typing approaches (both paid and open source solutions), speech input alternatives, strategies developed by other users of technology with the use of only one hand, and so forth. I'm @SinaBahram on there. Just drop me a line. Btw, the accessibility community often goes by the numerical acronym A11Y, so look for #A11Y or just a11y when Googling around, and that can help some of your searches as well. Sorry if this post is a bit disjoint. I would love to leave more comments on Slashdot and interact with it more, but Slashdot has repeatedly ignored my various emails and other attempts to reach out to them, since I use a screen reader and there are some serious accessibility issues that could so easily be fixed if I could just get ahold of the right person *poke poke to anyone who reads this*. To you or anybody else looking for more information on accessibility, technology used by folks with disabilities, etc., just contact me via whatever mechanism you like. It's all on my site, which I'm not sure my profile links to, so here it is. www.SinaBahram.com I hope this helps, and please don't' hesitate to contact me so we can get you connected to the right folks to get you gaming again.
  • by Karlt1 ( 231423 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:19PM (#41422935)

    I ordered this, but haven't quite got the hang of using it yet and it's only for the PS3.

    http://www.consolesandgadgets.co.uk/catalog/ps2-ps3-one-handed-controller-p-1616.html [consolesandgadgets.co.uk]

  • by arikol ( 728226 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:27PM (#41422973) Journal

    A good friend of mine has the same problem, one arm paralyzed. He has a good quality gaming mouse with a suitable amount of programmable buttons, a Razer Naga.
    He's also thought about a footswitch (or multiple) but hasn't tried that yet. He plays FPS with alarming accuracy and skill, having bound buttons for moving forward, strafing, and doing all major tasks. He cannot go backwards (on his current setup) but that really doesn't seem to affect his gameplay much.
    He previously had a Logitech gaming mouse, and bought the Razer more because it looks good than anything else (well, one or two extra buttons and nice ergonomics for his hand). He was a leftie, and lost use of his left arm, so is gaming with his weaker hand now. It's possible with any good programmable mouse!

    Good luck on continuing gaming, and rest assured that it can be done insanely well!

  • I had a stroke and only have had use of 1 hand for about 14 years now. I used to game with a regular 2 button mouse but recently got a razer naga hex and it's probably the best mouse for me http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006W3ZXEW/?tag=hyprod-20&hvadid=19398558576&hvpos=1o2&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=398679345943500799&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&ref=asc_df_B006W3ZXEW [amazon.com] it takes some getting used to though I use 2 not left click for shooting as it's much easier to have your index finger
  • Try Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, everyone plays that one with just one hand anyways.

    But seriously, point and click adventures almost never require more than one hand for mouse use.

  • First, it's great that you're trying to adapt to your new situation, and not simply assuming that it is not possible. A dear friend of mine is in a similar situation, and after lots of research on her behalf I landed unequivocally on the following setup:

    1. As many buttons as you can carry on your remaining mouse hand; i.e. Razer Naga. I've not used any of the super high button count (>8) Logitechs so I can't comment on them, but the Razer is what you would expect from the company: absolutely top notch. T

  • While I'm blessed enough to have full functionality of both my arms, I have repeatedly run into situations where I am significantly more skilled than those I am playing with, and to keep things interesting, restrict myself to one hand when playing a number of games. While I am significantly better with both hands, it is not impossible to be somewhat competitive in many games with only one hand. Occasionally I've found myself (successfully) using these techniques in tournament matches when I feel a suffici

  • I play the heck out of the PC BF3, and thought how I would do it with one arm cause I would find a way.

    I'd use my tongue, I'm right handed but learned to use the mouse with my left hand as the
    cord was too short to sit on the couch and use with my right hand.

    My game play is right handed, none of this wasd, it's all, keypad, arrow keys and keys to the
    left and top of them. My left hand or mouse hand could be limited to left, right, up, down, and in between.
    Fire, switch weapons (middle button) all easi
  • Depending on the severity of your injured arm, maybe you could manage to tape your limb to one of these devices: http://www.catistore.com/sp3dusbmoby3.html [catistore.com] You can operate 6 axis (move, rotation). That means moving + aiming in an FPS. Then, you could use your other hand with the keyboard. I don't know if this will work for you, since you didn't specified precisely the extent of your injury. For instance, I am an amputee. But I only lost 2 phalanxes in my left index finger, so the first sentence is a bit mis
    • I've used one of these before and wondered if it would ever be marketed to the
      general public as it was so freaking expensive.

      Back in the 1980's I had a friend who worked maintaining the computers for a DOE contractor.
      They had the latest and greatest stuff, next to the xerox machine would be million $ computers
      nobody had a use for.

      One of the Xerox drop offs was a controller like the spacecontroller in fact it has to be it's predecessor
      I was much nicer, the base held a "billiard ball" with a few micr
  • Well, this guy lays belly down on a bed, keyboard at his chin, pen in mouth, mouse propped against his cheek

    http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/ingame/disabled-gamer-shows-unusual-play-style-charity-1B6037954 [nbcnews.com]

  • I'm surprised nobody's mentioned it before, but the Kinect doesn't require agility in your hand, just the presence and motion of it. No, you're not going to get first person twitch gaming experience out of it, but you'll be on an absolutely equal par with anyone playing it.

  • Anything that will play nice with a kinect, or its older-and-less-sophisticated-but-much-more-mature-at-emulating-a-mouse sibling the IR webcam with illuminators and a retroreflective dot [wikipedia.org](because the commercial units have been touched by the dead hand of 'assistive technology' pricing they are damned expensive for what they are, DIY hacks are less likely to be polished; but can come in at a factor of ten less) could be useful to provide an extra 'hand' worth of control without occupying your good hand(if yo

  • Digital throttle, all controls within reach without having to let go of the stick. OK, it's only 3 buttons aside from the throttle, but hey, if you want uber stickage, then you'd have to let go of the stick for throttle and six programmable buttons, on top of the eight way hat and six more buttons on the stick on a Cyborg Evo. Still probably the best budget stick there is, tho.

    There again, there's the gear with the foot pedals. I've seen pedals with pressure sensitive multiswitching, as well as reverse swit

  • I use freetrack for headtracking in flightsims, racing games and Arma II, it's a free version of TrackIR (overpriced and aggressive about its dubious IP so I avoid) look here: http://www.free-track.net/english/ [free-track.net]. It is quite simple to build a headset with some IR LEDs and almost any camera will work with it. I built my set-up for around £30 including the soldering iron and a second hand PS3 eyetoy modded as per these instructions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jJfuP7YgPA [youtube.com]. In conjunction with Glovepie
  • The subject line here was the headline for a mid-90s banner ad for a dating service.
    Best. Ad. Ever.

  • In case you decide to pick up a Wii, the following games can be played with only the Wii Remote (based on my own collection):

    Mario Kart Wii (designed for two hands but playable with one)

    Wii Sports (most mini-games can be played with one hand)

    Wii Sports Resort (again, most can be played with one hand)

    Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

    Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (downloadable only)

    Dead Space Extraction (if memory serves me; I no longer own it)

    Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

    Zack and Wiki (if memory ser

  • I use freetrack for flightsims and racing games etc, it's free headtracking software and can be found here: http://www.free-track.net/english/ [free-track.net] . I put my setup together for around £30 including the PS3 etyetoy I use as the camera and the soldering iron as well! Slight modification for a webcam is needed to remove the IR filter, but it is quite straightforward as per this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jJfuP7YgPA [youtube.com]. In conjunction with GlovePIE you can program your head movements in freetrack to
  • Get a NES and one of those big-ass arcade-ish controllers and do what this guy [youtube.com] does.

  • The Atari 2600 had a one-button joystick, and you could buy models like the Wico Boss that had the fire button mounted on top. That should be pretty comfortable with one hand, especially if you add suction cups or duct-tape it to a table.

    Or if you prefer something a little fancier, the Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, and most Amiga games also used the same joystick pinout & control scheme. And there are a bunch of other one-button platforms: the Odyssey^2, Tandy CoCo, TI-99/4A, most Apple II ga

  • You should most definately check out this glove [theperegrine.com].
  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @02:01AM (#41426251)

    I've experimented with hands-free input on the PC to supplement the standard mouse/keyboard. Some of my best successes are:

    Game Commander 2 for voice control - great for switching weapons, fine-tuning simulator parameters, etc. Anything where you don't need instant responsiveness. It seems to be available free these days, but pretty much requires a high-quality noise-canceling microphone to work reliable. (If anyone knows where to get an affordable, quality headset mic without integrated headphones please let me know) It might have issues with Vista, 7, etc. though.

    TrackIR/FreeTrack can be rigged to emulate key presses with a little work (FreeTrack is probably easier to work with). Leaning/jumping/crouching/etc maps intuitively to this, but you can use it for anything you like. I strongly recommend going with full 6DOF tracking, otherwise cross-talk between different head movements can get infuriating.

    Use a Wii Balance Board along with GlovePie to emulate a mouse, joystick, and/or keyboard. The simplest way is to simply map the center-of-gravity position as a joystick or 4/8-way keypad. It's a little sluggish for movement in twitch-friendly FPSes (shifting your weight takes a lot longer than twitching a finger), but has potential in slower games. I've also had great luck using it for intuitive leaning. In this mode it also works just fine while sitting on it or putting it underneath a pedestal-base chair, though you need to add a way to calibrate the forward/back axis since it's unlikely your weight will be perfectly centered (I use the button to trigger a time-delayed "neutral position" reading)

    Standing on the BBoard or using it as pseudo-pedals opens the door to additional control as well - since there's some flex in the board each corner can be operated almost independently, or you can play with composite axes - for example independently tracking the front-back force distribution on each foot (think independent throttle control for the treads of a tank) as well as the force balance between feet. You can also convert the difference between left and right "throttle positions" into "twist" information - I had some interesting successes using the combination of that and the center-of-gravity position to emulate a joystick/rudder combo.

  • Modern "mmo" gaming mice allow for essentially one hand gameplay in most modern games. You bind directional buttons to side buttons (or in care of rat mmo you just use the directional stick provided on the side of the mouse), as well as spread the buttons you need to control the game across the buttons available on the mouse.

    It would take some time to get used to, but you should be able to play one handed without losing functionality like this.

  • You can probably cover about 2/3 of the games in the market with one hand. Just about anything that runs turn-based should be fun, even without a hardware upgrade. This covers everything from a large swathe of the 4x strategy games, to most Rogue-like games to puzzlers.

    If you add a new multi-button mouse or other OTS capability enhancers, racing games (limited control set) and single player RPGs (those that pause when you bring up inventory or other data screens) come into play. RTS may also work, but cou

  • What about the Wii ? I get that you are primarily a PC / 360 gamer, but there are a number of Wii games that can be played 1 handed for a short term gaming fix... Light gun games, Dancing games Sports ( Madden / Tennis / Golf ) etc...

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.