Are you a competitive gamer? Do you lie awake at night, visions of glorious noob slaying battles in your head on dusty Counter Strike streets? Do you want an edge over the gloating competition? Well then, you might want to pick up Sandio Tech’s latest gaming mouse, the Game O’…but you’ll also want to take a few things into consideration first.
I’ve been excited about the Game O’ for some time now, since E3 to be exact. I gave it a quick test-drive while I was in Kentia Hall (a moment of silence for Kentia and E3), and I was quite impressed. This mouse, theoretically, lets you game with just one hand, freeing up your other hand for extraneous keyboard control. The Game O’ has three digital mini-sticks on its left, right, and top surfaces. These sticks can have any keyboard function mapped to their four directions, most notably the WASD or Up, Down, Left and Right functions.
For casual shooter gaming, this eliminates the need for a keyboard. This sounds immensely liberating at first, but this mouse won’t become a god-weapon from the first time you wrap your fingers around it—you’ll need to practice quite a bit with it, as I discovered. Sandio used Unreal Tournament 04 as their showcase of the Game O’s abilities. Now I’m not all that skilled in UT to begin with, so I practiced mostly on something more my speed: good old Half-Life Deathmatch Classic.
The need for practice was apparent right from the start. I was bumping into walls, trying to duck and jump while cycling weapons, and aim all at the same time. And that’s when I realized something was wrong, because I was being consistently schooled by bots, which is embarrassing to say the least.
My main difficulty comes from the placement of the scroll wheel, or mouse button 3. The top mini-stick is far out in front, in the position usually reserved for the scroll button, and the scroll is tucked in a few centimeters behind this stick. With a regular mouse, my index finger, when not hammering the left shoot button, rests naturally on the scroll wheel. I typically assign the scroll function to cycling weapons, and a quick tap of the scroll button as a jump. On the Game O’, my finger rests on the top stick, with the scroll button lying under the middle of my finger, out of reach.
So, I had to reassign jump to another button, direction or stick. I thought this would be easy at first, but I just couldn’t find a location that I was comfortable with. I ended up putting jump on the keyboard’s spacebar, which kind of defeats the purpose of one-handed control. Maybe the problem is just the size of my tiny Yoda hands, but I imagine that a large handed gamer would have even more difficulty using the scroll wheel. Longer fingers would make for a better reach on the primary two buttons, however. At least there was plenty of rest space for my hand; the Game O’ comes with a wide, removable base to alleviate pressure on the wrist.
That issue aside, I began experimenting with the directional capabilities of the mini-sticks. The left side stick is the most comfortable to use for standard forward, back and left-right strafing, because naturally my thumb rests on the left side of the mouse. With a little getting used to, I’m sure I could use it as competently as WASD. Some rubber grip padding would be a nice addition, though. Above the left stick are two small, non-programmable ergonomic secondary buttons with forward and back functions. Pressing the two at the same time will adjust the mouse’s DPI resolution in-game (with a maximum of 2000 DPI), which is a nice feature. The right stick makes the mouse ambidextrous, but I’m not quite sure what I’d use the top stick for. I figure it’s basically the same thing as a hat-switch for flight sims, but I’d rather have a dedicated joystick if I’m playing old-school TIE Fighter. As I stated earlier, the top stick was really just an impediment for my use of the scroll wheel. My index finger is always on the left trigger button, so to use the top stick effectively I’d have to get comfortable moving a stick with my middle finger, which is an odd proposition to say the least.
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