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One handed gaming

TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
edited December 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
My wife had a stroke earlier this month that has left her without the use of her left side, including her left arm. It was a really bad stroke, she was airlifted to a hospital that specializes in Neurological issues (Barrow's Neuro in Phoenix if you're wondering) and they were only barely able to save her life. She spent a week in ICU, a few days in a regular hospital, and now she's in the acute neuro rehab unit. She will probably be there for another month or so, at least. I'd like to see if I can have some of these issues sorted out before she comes home. There's also a chance I could get something set up for her to play from her room (she has a laptop there already, and I already setup the PS3 in her room to use as a DVD player so we could watch Christmas movies together over the holiday).

We're both avid PC games (and console also, but to a lesser extent). I have been trying to find resources that will allow her to play some online games with only one hand. Specifically things like WoW, Diablo 3 (if it ever comes out), Torchlight 2 (if it ever comes out), etc. We are also avid RockBand players (she used to play Expert Bass, while I played Expert Guitar) and while I can't think of a way to play Bass or Guitar one handed (maybe use the Keytar to play bass parts?) I'm hoping she can try to pick up some one handed drumming techniques. Not really too worried about FPS games or RTS games at this point (and turn based strategy games won't be a problem, since she'll have plenty of time to move her hand between a keyboard and a mouse if needed).

I guess what I was hoping to find was a mouse that was designed with enough extra buttons that you could map a dozen or so function keys to it (think spell selection and potion belt for a Diablo type game, or enough to map one action bars worth of spells in WoW and then use mouse movement. I also found some one handed keyboards, so if it's possible to map movement options to a keyboard it may be possible to play the whole game without a mouse (WoW for example should be able to be played sans mouse, given some creative use of macros). If people have other ideas please let me know. I know she can't be the first person to have these questions, but I haven't found a ton of resources online. Most of my searches are leading to websites that are badly out of date, or to stories about some marketing guy who drew down the wrath of the internet regarding the Avenger controller.

P.S. She would really like to get into the Diablo 3 beta so she could play from the hospital. I realize that's like asking someone to move the heavens (or hells), but if anyone has an inside line on a D3 beta spot and wants it to go to a good cause, let me know.

Talondel on


  • Page-Page- Registered User regular
    At least for Diablo 3 you'll probably have less to deal with. There's really only 1 button for potions, and if you can bind 3 or 4 mouse buttons for skills you would be set. Or you can use the mouse wheel to switch.

    Probably won't help you since your wife is more into pc stuff, but I knew a guy who only had 1 hand and he spent a lot of time in the arcade. It wasn't so difficult for him to move a joystick with his thumb while he pressed ~3 buttons with the rest of his hand. He got really good at beat em ups, though since that genre doesn't really exist anymore that's not so helpful. There are a few xbl arcade games that would qualify, like the Scott Pilgrim game, and they're designed for coop play.

    He played some pc games, but it was almost exclusively strategy games, either turn-based (easy enough with a mouse), or rts games (which he only played for the singleplayer). He used a regular mouse.

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  • matt has a problemmatt has a problem Points to 'off' Points to 'on'Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    There are a couple one-hand game boards actually

    Z-Fang -

    Razer Nostromo -

    Logitech G13 -

    The drawback though, for the Nostromo and G13, is they're designed to be used with the left hand.

    :edit: Forgot about the Razer Naga, it's a mouse with 17 programmable buttons -

    matt has a problem on
  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    Well, I do know there are quite a few mice out there that have A LOT of buttons! Just checking their sites real quick, Razer has stuff like this and Logitech has a couple of different mice at various price points depending on how many buttons you want. Logitech also makes that G13 game board set of buttons mentioned above (and I guess Razer also makes one-- I don't have any experience with their products myself). I personally feel like being able to strafe in WoW is pretty important, and that would be tough with just a mouse, but I do know of people who have even managed to successfully raid just using autorun and turning their camera using the mouse to move themselves when necessary (holding left and right mouse buttons together), so maybe that's not such a big deal after all. Also, I think from what I've gathered from reading about the Avenger controller in the midst of this PR debacle, it unfortunately wouldn't quite work for someone who is solely one-handed, though it would work for someone lacking some fingers... at least, that's what I read somewhere. I would say that, assuming the controller modification does come out and is put into stores (I guess the 360 version is supposed to be out on the 15th, but I don't know if it'll be in stores yet at that point, and I'm not too sure about the PS3 one) you can look into whether it would work for her or not at that point. Doesn't help you yet though.

    At any rate, I wish you both the best of luck in finding a good solution that lets your wife keep doing what she likes to do!

  • schattenjaegerschattenjaeger Registered User regular
    Just thinking out loud, a symmetrical trackball mouse (the type where the ball is in the middle and the thumb is free) would let her keep her hand right next to the keyboard, and if she mapped the directional and function controls to the numpad she might be able to control both pretty simultaneously.

    Oh, another consideration is a button-loaded flight-sim joystick with perhaps the hat switch for motion. I can't picture in my head how awkward that'd be

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    There are quite a few options out there for Mice with extra buttons. Razer makes garish-looking mice, but they are excellent for gaming. The Razer Naga might be what you are looking for:

    The Warmouse Meta may be a better option if thumb motions are too strenuous. It has most of the buttons on top:

    The Madcatz label has the "Cyborg" brand, which makes gaming mice for PCs. They are bit "out-there", but they have a "shift" key on them which allows you to multiply the functions of the existing buttons (up to 78 separate functions).

    For the PS3, you can get a PS2 or PS1 to PS3 adapter (I have this on my fight stick) and get a one-handed controller, like this example:

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  • TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
    Wow, a lot of awesome suggestions in here already. I can see now that the reason I was having a problem finding things when searching is that I was too busy searching for "one handed" and "disabled" and things like that, instead of just "awesome gaming mouse." I suppose there may be some kind of life lesson for me in that. Interesting.

  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    You might consider getting a Wii at some point, depending on what her rehab is like. I know that they have been using them with stroke patients for the past few years.

    You might also try the ablegamers forums for their opinion on some of these products.

  • TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
    You might consider getting a Wii at some point, depending on what her rehab is like. I know that they have been using them with stroke patients for the past few years.

    You might also try the ablegamers forums for their opinion on some of these products.

    We do have a Wii, and yes they have one in the rehab unit that they use with people who are learning to use various limbs again. If we're very lucky (fingers crossed, knock on wood, etc.) she will make enough progress that she's able to start using that to relearn how to balance on two legs and to use her left arm. But right now she can't even wiggle the fingers or toes on that side, so she'd have a looooong way to go to be able to do that. But certainly any of the Wii games that don't need the nun-chuck attachment should work for her.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Look around Newegg or Amazon and find a keyboard with an oversized spacebar and a wonky Enter key (you know, the big ones).

    Pop off all the keys cept those few that are big and use them as additional binds in a game.

    Now both laugh as when she gets mad at a game she gets to kick her stupid keyboard to use an item.

    (I've been in a similar situation and this worked and we both had fun with Diablo 2)

  • AvynteAvynte Registered User regular
    When you say left side, are we talking all the way down to through the legs?

    Just thinking that a set of pedals might help give some extra movement options.

    Alternatively, there's gotta be a way to jury rig a TrackIr set into camera movement for regular games.

  • TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
    Avynte wrote:
    When you say left side, are we talking all the way down to through the legs?

    Just thinking that a set of pedals might help give some extra movement options.

    Alternatively, there's gotta be a way to jury rig a TrackIr set into camera movement for regular games.

    Correct, she is not able to use her left arm or left leg. Hopefully she'll regain some movement in those limbs over time but for now she can only barely shrug her left shoulder and can sometime get the muscles in the leg to twitch a bit.

  • cabsycabsy the fattest rainbow unicorn Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    I have a Razer, though not a Naga, and I'm pretty pleased with it. So far it seems like a good mouse. Also unless she is a super serious raider she can play WoW with numpad and arrow keys and just bind tab for target to a key near those. Minus tab targeting I used to play almost entirely right handed using the mouse only for looting because I used to chain smoke and couldn't be bothered to use both hands to play when I didn't have to. You can also use shift to double the number of keybinds available to you so even if you don't want to shell out for a naga or whatever you could probably get a good 25 keybinds available to just her right hand if her keyboard has a numpad.

    But if she is a healing class or another class that needs mouseover macros and such the naga is obviously a way better choice than learning how to numpad and keyboard turn playing WoW, if she's ranged it's easy peasy.

    cabsy on
  • EliminationElimination Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    I own a razer Naga and cant recommend it enough. I can play games like SWTOR almost entirely on the mouse if i want to without ever touching the keyboard. It has 12 bindings on the side, it also comes with software you can install that has things like a WoW set feature to help with binding things to the mouse instead of keyboard. This should also work for games like Diablo if you bind the skills to the mouse since in those games click to move is totally acceptable. The mouse even has little sticker things it comes with, with different bumps so that you can put them on the buttons and train yourself to push certain buttons for certain things easier without looking. Kind of a neat touch.

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  • JarsJars Registered User regular
    what about stylus based DS games?

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    when my son was under 1 month, i spent most of my gaming time with one hand on the mouse, and the the other holding him.

    games like Shogun 2 or DoW were easily done one handed

  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    Hey Talondel, just checking if you saw the PM I sent you.

  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    It may be of no interest at all but racing games is an option for one hand gaming if the right foot can be used also.

    It will require buy a wheel+pedals but with that and the racing game set to automatic gear change one can have a lot of fun with the right hand + right foot. If you get the right setup it can be used on both the PC and the PS3.

    Also strategy games like Civilization and all those can be played with just a standard mouse.

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  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    Disclaimer: I'm not a PC gamer, but I have a part-time job helping people who have physical issues with computing.

    If you're in the market for foot switches, I highly recommend looking at products from Kinesis: . They've been around for decades, their products are really high quality, and the support is excellent. I use their keyboards for everyday computing, and it's great to be able to enter all my settings once, and then use it on different computers and even different operating systems without having to set it up again.

    My other piece of advice is to be aware of RSI problems with one handed typing or gaming, because it could force her to stretch her fingers in awkward ways that can cause RSI problems like tendinitis, cupital tunnel, or carpal tunnel in the long run. (There's a physics joke that goes, "Do not stare into laser with remaining good eye"!) While many people are lucky and never get RSI issues, women are more likely to be affected, and since she will be relying on her one good hand a lot more, it is best to try to avoid injury as much as possible.

    Here are some ideas she might try for one-handed typing, but I'm hiding them under a spoiler because it's about general computer use rather than gaming specifically:
    If she chooses to stick with a standard keyboard, this website has some tips for typing and how to set up a computer environment in a comfortable way.
    (This website also briefly covers some alternatives, though the author has a pretty clear bias towards using standard keyboards, and most of the cons for the alternative hardware are things like "it's expensive" or "the company might go out of business", making it clear that she's never actually tried using those products.)

    Another popular option is "half-qwerty" typing, which is basically keeping one hand in it's normal position, and then toggling back and forth between that one side, and mirroring the keyboard onto the other side. This can be done with software support and a standard keyboard, or by using specially-made hardware. (associated auto hotkey script: )
    However, I suggest using caution with any programs or hardware that require you have to hold down a key in order to use the other side of the keyboard, because in my experience I find that a lot of people are more likely to get injured if they do a lot of "chording" (having to press multiple keys at once to type). If that occurs, she could try using one of the foot switches to go back and forth between the different sides of the keyboard.

    There are a few companies that make keyboards specially designed for one handed typing, such as Malton:
    Like Kinesis, Maltron is a company that's been around for ages and has great support. However, their products are very expensive, and it also takes a lot of time commitment in order to learn to use a keyboard like this (like 100-150 hours or more). They're great in professional environments (in some cases adaptive computer hardware can be provided by the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act) but the cost would probably make it too much for video gaming.

  • lizard eats flieslizard eats flies Registered User regular
    So I came back from having my left arm completely paralyzed (right arm was half paralyzed in the same incident, but came back quickly). For gaming I started on handheld stuff: DS/iPhone which worked pretty well. I also played things like torchlight and other such 'only need a mouse' games. WoW was doable if I was just doing casual questing and whatnot, but I actually found it to be pretty... disheartening because I couldn't really chat with my friends easily (I tend to be a typer more than a vent person).

    As my arm started to get more functionality, I was able to keep playing the same games but use some of the keyboard shortcuts instead. One or two buttons at a time, awkwardly. With the DS/iPhone it was a big deal to just be able to hold it with my left hand while i played with my right. So it was slowly using it for more and more things.

    When I had regained ~60-70% of my arm ability, I was able to play some Xbox games with the standard controller, but it was often frustrating and sometimes painful. It was pretty emotionally trying. The big thing here was even tho I COULD move my fingers, all the muscles in that limb were so atrophied that I could barely push down the buttons. It took a while to build the strength back up.

    I didnt use any special hardware or anything, but looking over some of the suggestions here, I would've killed for some of the mice people linked to.

    Side note: i actually did most of my general computing on my iPhone for a LONG time because it was way easier for me to type and navigate the touchscreen with just the one hand.

    Good luck to your wife. I hope she has a speedy recovery.

  • TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
    I just wanted to stop back in and thank all of your for your feedback. I've found some excellent resources from the people in this thread. She will be coming home from the hospital in two or three weeks and hopefully by then I'll have a good deal of this figured out.

    And yes I did get the PM that was sent from Ego. Thanks!

  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular

    You could always get one of these. It has 14 buttons in total.

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  • One-Hand KeyboardOne-Hand Keyboard Registered User
    Was she a touch typist before the stroke? What is she doing for her typing now?

    There's a pretty cool keyboard layout concept that "mirrors" the keyboard down the middle so you can type everything with one hand. Hold spacebar and press "K" and it outputs "D" instead. Press "O" and it outputs "W". Same finger, same row of the keyboard, just using the other hand. Your muscle memory is able to do this almost immediately; it's completely based on your former two-hand muscle memory. I made the free Mac version below.


    I've also made a predictive text version called One-Hand Keyboard, where there's no need to hold down spacebar. Just type the keys and the app figures out which word you meant to type. "yhia" -> "this"

    Could be useful if she used to be a touch-typist and is now having trouble.

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