Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rant: Skyward Sword's Right-Handed Bias

Oh god her elbow!

When Twilight Princess came out for the Wii, I was disappointed that they changed Link to be right-handed for the game. I understood the decision, more people are right-handed, and I understood that since Twilight Princess was a late-game addition to the Wii's lineup that left-handed support (in the form of a left-handed Link) would probably have been a difficult addition. Quite frankly, many other people felt the same way.

You'd think that since Skyward Sword was built from the ground up as a Wii game, and because of the knowledge that many people wanted a left-handed mode for Twilight Princess that such a mode would have been included for Skyward Sword. This is unfortunately not the case. I'm really disappointed by this.

Why am I so disappointed by this? It reflects a lack of caring on Nintendo's part. I know that it's not a big deal for to include left-handed support because left-handed people can still play the game just fine. It would have been a really nice gesture toward left-handed players, however.

Link had, until Twilight Princess, been left-handed. It had actually been an error, at first, but Nintendo rolled with it and kept him left-handed for all subsequent releases. I have always loved Zelda games and when I realized that Link was left-handed like me I only felt more attached to him. Then I realized that we were born at nearly the same time, so to speak.

I was born at 6:00 AM on February 20, 1986. When you account for the time difference between America and Japan, it was 8:00 PM on February 20, 1986. The Legend of Zelda was released four hours later in Japan, in February 21. This proximity of births made me feel even closer to Link.

What's funny is that normally, languages have a built in bias against leftness. 'Right' implies correctness, freedom, moral goodness, and immediacy. 'Left' is also the past tense of 'to leave'. In other languages it's worse. In French, 'adroit' means right and skillful whereas 'gauche' means left and clumsy. In Latin, 'dexter' means right and skillful whereas 'sinister' means left and unskillful or even harmful. In English, 'sinister' means evil.

When I played Twilight Princess, I stubbornly played it with the remote in my left hand. The hardest part was actually learning how to use an analog stick to move with my right hand. I will continue this tradition forward into Skyward Sword. Quite frankly, if I'm impaired by this in some way, such as a left-to-right swing functioning differently from a right-to-left swing, I might just stop playing.

In German, 'links' means left. If only he would have stayed that way.