When Wes revealed that he was WASDing wrong a few years ago—with his pinky on A—I joined in and laughed. Ha ha ha, look at this guy, putting his pinky on the wrong key! Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t feel so good when your pinky is the one being mocked.
Yesterday, PC Gamer contributor Kyle Campbell confessed that, when using WASD, he hits Ctrl by adjusting his hand forward on the keyboard and pressing down with the top of his palm. I was vexed by the discussion I was seeing in our work chat. Kyle’s method is unusual, but it didn’t seem that weird to me, just overdramatic. What, are you supposed to curl your whole pinky back and use the tip?
Apparently, yes, most of my coworkers curl their pinkies off of Shift and hit Ctrl with the tip. What? That’s uncomfortable and inefficient, unless perhaps you are an accomplished classical guitarist. I genuinely didn’t know that anyone did that until yesterday. I propose that Kyle and I are the normal ones (more me than Kyle though), and it’s the pinky curlers who are weird.
I don’t use Kyle’s dramatic palm method, but the concept is somewhat similar. With my pinky gently arched, I rest the tip on Shift. When I need to press Ctrl, I extend my pinky so that the underside of the knuckle is touching Ctrl, and then press down. If I need to, I can press Ctrl and Shift simultaneously, or I can quickly switch from Shift to Ctrl and back by extending and unextending my pinky, like it’s doing light aerobics.
Why Kyle brings the top of his palm into the picture, I can’t say. That’s unnecessary. But I also find it very strange to curl one’s pinky like a shrimp tail. My pinky happily hangs out on Ctrl, Shift, and Caps Lock (my screenshot key) and I hardly have to bend it to hit all three. It is an unstressed pinky. It is sipping iced tea while your pinkies are flexing and straining, showing off like fools.
(Let the record show that Morgan responded to this video with: “
Morgan claims that he requires the precision of his pinky tip; he fears accidental double-presses. Morgan and I both bind Ctrl to crouch, though, so I don’t know what he’s worried about. If I accidentally press crouch twice, I will simply appear to be making a rude gesture. And why would I be more likely to double press anyway? It seems to me that moving the tip of the pinky from Shift to Ctrl is a riskier gesture; it causes my whole hand to move back a little.
I didn’t plan this response. It was genuinely bothering me last night, so I got up early to say this: Kyle, you’re not that weird. OK, maybe you’re a little weird. But the pinky curling method is also weird.
I am enjoying discovering all these differences now, after clearly not interrogating other people’s WASD methods enough over the years. There was never a good reason to assume we all did it the same.
WASD wasn’t standard when I started playing shooters. We used the arrow keys to move. (They’re arrows. It made a lot more sense at the time than four letters.) When I started using WASD—in Quake, probably—there were no instructions. We were making it up, and as Kyle recalls, that led to lots of bullshitting about the “right” way to do things. Of course there never was a right way, and still isn’t. You can use your palm to hit Ctrl, or curl your pinky if you want to.
You’re weird if you do, though, and I’m the normal one.