Why are Joysticks ALWAYS on the Left? – Fact Hunt Special

Larry answers the biggest question in gaming that no one ever asked… Why are joysticks always on the left? The answer may surprise you!

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  1. For the majority of modern mainstream games the movement controls don’t require a great deal of precision. While the action buttons require that a specific one is pressed at a specific time. It would therefore seem natural that action buttons are laid out for the dominant hand. It’s interesting to learn that the original intent behind was to make games harder to control and then realize how much of an impact input placement has had on game design over the decades.

    • Well, unsurprisingly video games have changed very much over the years. Back then, people just jammed on the action button as quickly as possible to fire a cannon or something and did the real gaming with the joystick. Nowadays it isn’t just a button mash fest.

  2. I don’t know Larry…

    Between your claims that some vaguely shaped configuration of directional buttons without a pivot was the first D-Pad and now this, you’re making some strange claims here.

    I’m not saying some arcade owners weren’t greedy, but I think this would have been more widely known about if it was a massive trend that swept the world and required the physical modding of dozens or even hundreds of games depending on the size of the arcade. I honestly believe this was just a case of things evolving through the early days of commercial gaming.

    Also, here in the United States we have the steering wheel on the left hand side of a vehicle, so maybe that’s why it feels more natural for us to have the joystick or main directional controller on the left, but strange for people in the UK?

    Seeing how the United States is the largest market for video games, maybe it just followed our preference, and our preference was like the cars we had been riding and driving our whole lives.

    • No, there is in fact good explanation for that. When video games have one or two buttons then placement of joystick is irrelevant, but after number of buttons start rising then it become hard to fallow when movment controls generally still stay straightforward. It is why they start switching it. Similar trend happen on PC’s with introduction of mouse when people switch to famous “WSAD” instead directional buttons. It is also worth to mention that trend was grounded by fact that NES also use that setup, what was adopted from Game and Watch with the D-pad. It is hard to say why it was that way? Ether result of arcade experience or somehow related to left side movement similar to Britain, but first is more probable explanation.

  3. “No, there is good explanation for that… that it is hard to say why it was that way.”

    Glad you were there to gainsay my opinion with vague inconclusiveness.
    The important thing is not that you have any better explanation, it to let people know that you think I’m wrong.

    • I detect some needless saltines from you even if I didn’t intend to offend you. Anyway if you wan’t simplistic explanation: This trait was popularized by Japan (most notably NES) which in fact has left side movement as British, so I don’t think that that was the case even if it can’t be excluded. Point is that there is many arguments and paralel circumstances what show that with rising complexity of controls movements stick usually was moved on left for practical reasons.

      • So again, if you admit you don’t know either, why do you immediately say I’m wrong?

        Then I see you calling me “salty” for pointing this out…and your troll status is confirmed.

        Have a nice day!

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