I have always been a controller guy. I’ve been using one since I got my first Xbox. But lately, in my twenties, my hands start to hurt after long hours of playing fighting games. I felt really scared that if I continue my gaming sessions, I’d develop carpal tunnel syndrome. My mom suffers from it and now she is unable to lift heavy shopping bags from the supermarket.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve is squeezed where it passes through the wrist. In its most severe form, it causes slower nerve impulses, loss of feeling in the fingers, and a loss of strength and coordination―especially the ability to use your thumb to pinch.
Thankfully, I don’t feel its worst effects yet. My left hand’s thumb and its base, index finger, and middle finger all feel numb and painful after doing plenty of hadoukens and fatalities. A lot of it has to do with the way I grip the controller. When in an intense fight, I grip the controller tighter in order to accurately move the thumbstick and d-pad for footsies. My right-hand doesn’t suffer any of the pain since my fingers are light on the buttons. What’s even worse is that my ring finger and little finger are stuck on the wings of the controller for my entire session which makes them feel stiff after a long while.
After noticing these symptoms, I wanted to find a way to keep my gaming passion alive. It’s been with me since my childhood and it’s a pretty huge contributing factor to my mental health. During my research, a lot of pros in the fighting game community kept saying that your controller preference is subjective. Some people may perform better on the controller and some people are better off with the fightstick. And while I truly believed that I would be better at a controller because of experience, my deeper issue was medical. I didn’t care if I would perform badly on a fightstick, I had to learn it in order to keep playing.
I bought my first fightstick at the Facebook Marketplace. It was a second hand so it was cheaper and I liked that its design was customized and minimalist. And it’s not just a fightstick, it was also a mixbox. If ever the joystick was giving me a hard time, I can always go back to the directional buttons.
I have to admit, it felt super weird having a huge controller on my lap. But my hands have never felt so free. It took me about a week to completely get used to it. But it was so worth it. Even after 12 hours of gaming, my hands never hurt.
I was so in love with the fightstick that I had to get another one. This time, I got it customized from 3A’s Arcade. It has Helena and Christie from Dead or Alive (I love the game and I’m not ashamed) with Cherry keys and Sanwa parts.
While your preference for controllers may vary, there are always pros and cons to both. If you’re light on your fingers and your grip isn’t too tight, controllers might be the best for you. But If you’re like me who loves to squeeze the controller tight for precision, then maybe fight sticks are for you.
Photos were taken by Uncle Apple
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