Shigeru Miyamoto Hears This Left-Handed Gamer's Pain

Illustration for article titled Shigeru Miyamoto Hears This Left-Handed Gamer's Pain

Nintendo’s top game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, is going to talk to his development teams about making Nintendo’s games a little more left-hander-friendly. It’s not a huge issue, but it’s one I’d been meaning to ask him about.

Most Nintendo games play fine for lefties, but the company’s systems, particularly the Wii U and 3DS, sometimes ask lefty gamers to wield a stylus in their right hand. Some of those games offer a lefty option. Some don’t, which can make some games feel weird or even unplayable.

Miyamoto and I discussed this last week at E3 during a longer interview about some other Nintendo stuff. I had to bring up the lefty stuff, because I’ve had a hard time understanding why Miyamoto, who I thought was left-handed, was letting this slip by.


“I’ll talk to my teams,” he told me through a translator, meaning he’d see what they could do about offering more lefty modes.

I’m left-handed and I just can’t get comfortable using, say, Pikmin 3’s new stylus controls. They use the Wii U GamePad’s left control stick and require you to hold the system’s stylus in your right, all the while leaving the right control stick relatively unused.

The original 3DS game Dillon’s Rolling Western also required right-hand stylus control; the sequel added a lefty mode.

How could this be? I told Miyamoto that I thought that he, too was left-handed.

I mean, he looks like he is in this picture, no?

Illustration for article titled Shigeru Miyamoto Hears This Left-Handed Gamer's Pain

Miyamoto isn’t a full lefty, he told me through a translator. He writes with his left, throws with his right. If he’s painting calligraphy, for example, he uses his right. And he (like me, actually) plays controller games—even Wii games—pretty much right-handed.

“What’s interesting is that when we were working on the Wii with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, I was certain that I was going to start playing with the Nunchuk in my right hand and the Wii Remote in my left hand,” he said. “But ultimately I didn’t, because partly I found it easier to play with the Nunchuk in my left hand and move the control stick with my left thumb partly—because I think that’s what my body has learned to do.


“And so with 3DS it’s a little bit of the same. If there are games that involve actual writing, we always include a left-handed mode, but when it involves a combination of a stylus and a control stick, we usually do that where you’re controlling with the control stick in your left hand and you’re using the stylus with your right hand.

“Or if it involves something with the stylus with tiny movements we’ve usually done that with the right hand. But it’s a thing that’s fairly simple to adapt to so I will go back to my teams and consult with them. Maybe we’ll issue a patch.”


I laughed, and responded: “You don’t have to name the patch after me.”

More laughter.

And, later, when I was talking about the 3DS game that seemed to be oriented for righty-stylus controls, what could I do? He gestured as if he had a 3DS in his lap and crossed his hands, left past right, chuckling. Funny! Turns out the game we were discussing probably doesn’t need a lefty mode. He was just teasing.


Well, here’s hoping they patch Pikmin 3!

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo. Photo credits: Bib Riha for Nintendo via Getty Images (top), Christopher Polk for Getty Images

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