Gamers WASD Keys History

By Xah Lee. Date: .

Gaming's WASD

The gaming's convention of W A S D for avatar movement keys, is also shaped by the PC keyboard's physical key layout used at the time.

WASD keys VwTtQ
WASD keys

It was made famous by Dennis Fong (aka Tresh), the most famous champion of first person shooter gamer, in Quake, in late 1990s.

Dennis Fong (traditional Chinese: 方鏞欽; simplified Chinese: 方镛钦; pinyin: Fāng Yōngqīn; Jyutping: fong1 jung4 jam1), better known by his online alias Thresh, is an American businessman and retired professional player of the first-person shooter video games Quake and Doom. He is a co-founder of Xfire, an instant messenger and social networking site for gamers, which was acquired by Viacom for US$102 million in April 2006. He also co-founded Lithium Technologies, a social customer relationship management (CRM) company. In his playing career his highest profile victory came in 1997 at the Red Annihilation Quake tournament, where he placed first and won id Software CEO John D. Carmack's Ferrari 328. Fong is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the first professional gamer.[1]

2021-06-18 [ Thresh (gamer) ] [ 2021-06-18 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thresh_(gamer) ]

[How WASD became the standard PC control scheme By Tyler Wilde. At https://www.pcgamer.com/how-wasd-became-the-standard-pc-control-scheme/ ]

Most people need to use the right hand for the mouse for operating a gun or view, so the left hand is used for controlling the avatar's movement. Right hand is the more dexterous hand for most people, and operating the mouse needs more dexterity than pressing arrow keys.

So, to move the avatar, there's the arrow keys, but those have some problems. The arrow keys are on the right side of the keyboard, making it awkward to use with left hand. So, a cluster of keys on the left side of the keyboard is used instead.

But why

   W
 A S D

and why not for example:

   E
 S D F

keys? The E S D F are in the standard typing position. But, W A S D is more suitable here, because W A S D is closer to {CapsLock, Tab, Shift, Ctrl, Alt}, that gamers need to use for Firing, Shield, Jump, change weapon, etc. So, W A S D became the convention.

Also note that the common layout is QWERTY. W A S D is inverted T on QWERTY layout. For those using the Dvorak Keyboard Layout, the W A S D keys are scattered and is a problem. In fact, in the early days, many games do not respect user's choice of key layout in Operating System, nor does it provide ways for users to change the keys. Even today, some game software still have this problem, notably Second Life (as of 2010-06-16). (In the early days, say mid 1990s, Operating systems such as Windows hardly have a consistent keyboard layout API for programers anyway. Many software protocols, standards, layers, are gradually established later as with most things.)

Keybinding and Input-System

Arrow Keys

Xah Keyboard Guide