The Big Question: Inverted Or Normal

A couple of years we did the poll to end all polls, but today I want to do it again. This is the most important question in the history of the universe and it's important that everyone answers. Inverted or normal? WHO WILL WIN?

Some of you may already know my choice, but I will remain silent on this occasion. I don't want to skew the poll. This is important scientific research and it must be pure.

Inverted or regular. Vote or die.

The Most Important Question You Will Ever Answer


    very hard question, if its first person i play normal, but if its 3rd person i play inverted and for some strange reason i cant play the other way around... freak of nature? i think so :P

      Lol, don't worry I'm exactly the same. I used to always play inverted until I started playing FPS games, and I couldn't do it so had to change to normal.

        There should be a both option, depends on the game.

          Agreed. I just voted normal as I probably spend more time on CoD than anything else.

      i play inverted because, although it is a first person shooter, the "face" of the character is in front of me. I always felt like i was behind the camera so to speak. If i attached a pole to the back of the "head" (pole being analog stick) if would only feel natural that as I pulled down on the pole the "face" would rotate upward on the 'pivot" of the "neck" and as i pushed upward on the "pole" that was attached to the back of the face pivoting on the neck, the "face" would rotate downward. Like a camera on a tripod with one of those pole things.

    I personally prefer normal, but I ha a friend once who was a very, very good competitive counter-strike player who played with an inverted mouse... He said that it was easier to pull the mouse towards him for a head shot, then push it away in that split-second moment.
    I stuck with normal, but it's always made me think...

    Grew up on flight sims and can't play it any other way - inverted for me.

      Yep same here. My little brother keeps changing all my games back to normal and it drives me nuts.

      I have access to a flight sim with hydraulics. Inverted makes perfect sense in the cockpit, because when you pull back on the yoke, gravity will pull you back into your seat. Similarly, when you push in, gravity will push your body forward. It's very intuitive. However, I play normal in games because that sense of movement isn't there. When I'm sitting down, up on the pad moves the character up on the screen ) or forward.

    Depends on the perspective for me, and sometimes the game too.

    1st person = normal
    3rd person = inverted*

    And there are even some exceptions to 3rd person depending on how the game's camera is coded. If the camera seems snappy and points directly at my character I usually go with normal, but if the camera floats and drags behind I prefer inverted.

    Normal. Because walking around shooting people is not like flying an aircraft. I bend down to crouch, not lean forward.

    ... I think I might've been the first voter, managed to get a lovely screenshot of 100% normal

    the only time I gripe about normal vs inverted is if there's a flying section in a game and the controls aren't inverted ... it just feels weird

    EDIT: ... apparently my hands don't like typing today. flying controls should be inverted, always.

    Last edited 15/05/13 11:31 am

      Flying is the only time that I like inverted.

        Yeah, same here. Inverted for flying, normal for on foot.

        Yet the survey does not cater for this obviously correct answer.

          Except you tilt your head forward to look down and tilt backwards to look up when you play the real life. I don't think it should be described as" looking up" or "looking down", that's just the end result of tilting your character's view (head) in a 3D environment.

          Inverted always for me. Anything else feels unnatural.

            Yeah, but in on-foot sections of first person games I tend to think of it more as raising my gun (or bow or sword or whatever) up rather than tilting my head back. So up feels more natural for me.

    Normal. Recently started Shadow of Colossus and their version of normal was my version of inverted, though. :D

    I used to be a freak, like you @markserrels, but with time and copious therapy I became a functional human being, capable of using a controller the correct and proper way.

    Death to the inverted infidels!

    When I started gaming (around 12 years old) I played everything on inverted. Now i'm 19 and I can't play on inverted for the life of me.

    Inverted is correct. Think of the stick as the top of someone's head: If you pull it back, they will look up.

    Last edited 15/05/13 11:24 am

      Depending on where you consider the pivot point to be, either inverted or normal is correct. If the camera is controlled by a stick out the back of someone's head, inverted is right. If the camera is inside the person's head, then normal is correct.

        No it's not. You tilt your head back to look up, and tilt it forward to look down. It doesn't matter where you consider the pivot point to be.

          Now move your eyes without moving your head.

          EDIT: Not to mention that if you hold pretty much any camera, you are holding it in front of the centre of gravity (or pivot point) and will move it up to look up, down to move down and so on.

          Last edited 15/05/13 11:35 am

            Moving your eyes is a different interaction than moving your head, which is what the camera is essentially doing in first person. Viva la inverted!

              Except when you're rotating, and then you're turning your entire body.

            Your eyes roll back inside their sockets when you look up, and roll forward when you look down.

              So if the pivot point is in the centre of the eyes, then they move up if in front of the pivot point or down if behind.

                You are missing what WhitePointer is saying here. The idea is if you take your anchor point as being through the centre of the head or the eye, you would pull back on the top of the head (or eye) to look up, and push forward to look down (or pull down from the front, which is essentially the same thing). Think of pulling your head back, your neck muscles pull your head back, hence you look up.

                  My point is that if you consider the pivot point to be in a different place (considering camera movements in games are a very abstract thing) then either can be correct. As demonstrated by @Whitepointer trying to justify inverted movement for eye movement by saying that the back is moving in a different direction to the front, which is exactly the point I was making.

                  You're not moving a head, you're moving a camera that happens to be inside a videogame character's head. Either it's controlled by a stick out the back of the head (inverted) or you hold it like a normal camera and grip it in front of the centre of gravity (normal).

      Think of it as someones eyes. You look up to look up. Therefore you push up to look up.

        Er, you can also pull down from the back of the eye to move it up

      This is all correct if you think the stick is the top of someones head. Usually I'm focused on the reticule and consequently imagine is their weapons aim. When you fire a rifle, you steady it with your shoulder and you lower and raise the hand rest. When you aim a pistol, you aim by raising and lowering your arm. There are exceptions of course - many large caliber rifles are steadies with legs at the front.

      My overall point is I don't think inverted or normal is 'correct', it actually depends on what you think the stick is actually doing.

        I find this far more intuitive and logical than pretending the analogue stick is a tiny head.

      By this logic you invert X axis as well. Do you?

    Irrelevant. Gets the job done. As controls change so does the way we use them. Normal is just a statistical thing so the reason its normal is because the majority is like that. You answered your question simply by asking the question. The answer helped prove that.

    The real question is why you're playing shooters on consoles anyway.

      It doesn't mention consoles anywhere, just do you invert your y axis or not...

        Does anyone EVER invert their Y axis using a mouse? THAT would be weird.

          Yeah I think it's a pretty safe bet this is only an issue on consoles. 99% of people playing an FPS game on a PC using keyboard and mouse would play non-inverted.

          If you're playing flight sims with a joystick, or third person games with a PC Gamepad however, that's a different story.

            99% of people playing an FPS game on a PC using keyboard and mouse would play non-inverted.
            Very bold assumption right there... My experience as a PC player playing shooters for over 15 years is that its much closer to the ratio seen in the statistic above. Why should this be different to console players anyway? The issue is the same, ie. players, who also play flight sims etc are more likely to play inverted, it doesnt matter if these players on PC switch between different controls for different games, its about habit and perception.

            Look everyone! Here's another example of how 46.7% of statistics are just made up on the spot!

          You mean X axis (THAT would qualify as weird)? Because whats the difference inverting an Y axis on a mouse as opposed to a controller?! In fact the vast majority of PC players in shooters I have met invert their mouse (as do I).

          Last edited 15/05/13 12:13 pm

            +1 I invert on mouse too :)

    I used to be "normal all the way."

    But now, I sometimes play a game, and I'm like "this shiz is way better inverted." Not for FPS's, anyone who plays them inverted is objectively wrong.

    But I don't actually seem to have a proper preference. Sometimes it just feels better one way, nam sayin'?

      I tend to vary as per whatever the game has set as default. I always have a little learning curve when I start playing any new game anyway and part of that is the programming my brain into whatever way they've defaulted the controls.

      As in, I don't care.

        I don't think you understand just how important this issue is.

          I don't think you realise how little I care.

            No, I do. I really do. You're just wrong not to care. This is the single most important issue that will impact any of us this year.

              Nope. If I kicked you out, you wouldn't have a home or internet. I am pretty sure those things would impact you harder.

      Not for FPS's, anyone who plays them inverted is objectively wrong.

      In what sense? Realism? If you lean forward, you automatically look down, if you lean back, you automatically look up. What is objectively wrong there?!

      Last edited 15/05/13 12:16 pm

        Anyone who prefers inverted for shooters is wrong. Their opinion in this matter is objectively wrong. I don't see how that's difficult to understand.

          Oh, I got you! Sorry, for a moment I thought, there was potential for a sensible discussion there.

          Last edited 15/05/13 12:46 pm

    For me it's a bit of both. Depends on the game and also the platform.

    Third person games I almost always play inverted.

    First person games on PC though, I play non-inverted. I don't play first person games on consoles by choice, but if I HAVE to, I play inverted. So that's kind of odd.

    Last edited 15/05/13 11:27 am

    I don't know how it happened but I'm part of the inverted masterrace.

    Inverted for me, both 1st & 3rd person.. I did aeronautics in high school and I think I always associate any controls with piloting a plane. (eg. pulling back on the joystick/down on the controller is like tilting my head back/looking up).

    If you play "normal" it is because you are treating your aiming reticle as a cursor and you identify the movement of the joystick as corresponding directly to the movement of the reticle.

    If you play inverted it is because you identify the joystick as the orientation of your ingame avatar, and the position of the reticle is a by-product of that orientation. Therefore on a first or third-person shooter, or flight sim, you "lean" or "tilt" backwards and therefore look upwards, push forward to "lean" or "tilt" forwards to look down.

    The inverted vs. normal debate has nothing to do with the controller in your hands, it is about where you mentally exist in correspondence to the action occurring on the screen.

    Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one this makes sense to. My wife plays normal and no matter how many times I explain it she doesn't seem to get it. Like even on a logical, theoretical level, she can't understand how my brain can be wired this way.

      You write stuff like this and think you have no fans...
      *shakes head sadly*

      Exactly. This is why normal is what works for me - in my mind I'm not moving my "head", I'm moving my gun, which I move up by pulling up and down by pulling down. My "eyes" just happen to follow my gun, not the other way around.

      The inverted vs. normal debate has nothing to do with the controller in your hands, it is about where you mentally exist in correspondence to the action occurring on the screen.

      I disagree with this.

      If I have a gamepad in my hands, I play inverted. If I'm using a keyboard and mouse, I play non-inverted. It's TOTALLY to do with what controller I'm using.

      Last edited 15/05/13 12:05 pm

        You raise a good point, but I wasn't factoring PC gaming into this.

        Whereas you control your Y-Axis by using your thumb to operate a lever that mentally corresponds to your in-game avatar, the mouse is a physical object that has a variable orientation in meatspace. Like @michael said above, he plays normal because he moves his gun up to aim up, and down to aim down. The mouse is effectively the gun in this situation, so it's a far more natural reflex to extend your arm to raise the weapon and draw your arm back to lower it, even if you would otherwise invert your Y-axis on a controller.

        I think it's very unusual for a mouse-gamer to invert, though I've certainly known people who do it. I used to know a guy who would physically turn his mouse 180° and use the heel of his hand to operate the buttons, and that was just to operate Windows and browse the internet.

          I am not sure, "unusual" is the key word re inverted mouse. Isnt it just a matter of perception, what your mouse stands for in-game?

          In that regard, seeing the mouse as gun sounds a bit strange to me, as the mouse on PC is not primarily used to represent a weapon or tool, but is an extension of your basic movement, ie it represents your upper body (interesting anecdote: this is also how the military trains you to use any handheld weapon - as an extension of your body, not as something separate to point and shoot). This is pretty evident from watching your avatar in 3rd person (hence why some comments here point out, that they do this different from 3rd person to 1st person on PC). Therefore it actually validates your initial point, that "inverted" players perceive their interaction with their game, via controller or mouse, as a direct translation from what their avatar is doing to move in-game.

          Last edited 15/05/13 12:30 pm

          I disagree with the inverted user being "unusual". I know I've been doing it since the first mouse look games such as Quake came out, because that was pretty standard back then, it's only really been with the profligetation of console shooters have the non-inverted crowd really grow in number, IMO. But again, as you and paraoz58 have said, it is really is just a matter of perception of the UI, the game and how the player feels most comfortable interfacing with it. I mean, the way some people here are arguing, we might as well be arguing about which is the correct way to write, left or right handed, as though this is some kind of choice. I know I'm uncomfortable as hell using the non-inverted method as much as I'm uncomfortable using my right hand to write. Neither method is the only correct way to interface with a game, but it's certainly more comfortable for some.

            Unusual wasn't meant to mean strange or wrong, just that it's not as common. I tend to see a fairly even divide in inverted vs/ normal controller users, but in my personal experience inverted mouse users (except for flight sims) is considerably less common.

            I still invert mouselook for flying sim games and always have.

              As a left-hander and inverter, I can attest to feeling persecuted by the majority of household implements and video games whose default options I am forced to change to cater to my, uh... genius.

      That's actually similar to how I differentiate the two.

      in first-person games (where I'm controlling something that is not part of the character I am playing - this extends to third-person games, too, as I'm still manipulating the gun/tool as if it were first-person) I tend to play with normal, but in flight sims or similar (where I'm controlling the craft, or whatever, of which I am a part) I play y-inverted.

      I think it comes down to this: if I'm manipulating a gun, I'm not the thing that should be moving - my character is holding the gun, therefore to bring the reticle/gun up, I move my mouse/thumbstick up; if I'm manipulating a spacecraft which I am inside, I tilt the craft back to go up, hence moving the mouse down (or pulling back on the thumbstick). Inverted controls in an FPS make me feel like I'm moving myself around the weapon, which isn't how it should work.

        Inverted controls in an FPS make me feel like I'm moving myself around the weapon, which isn't how it should work.

        Actually this is kind of how it works to aim a weapon in real life, particularly rifles, but also sidearms to a significant extend (when used with both hands). I think, the key here is that most gamers are people, who do not operate weapons in real life, hence have a perception similarly to that of movie actors in the 1970s or 1980s, when military or police consultation was rare, and they saw guns as some kind of tool to aim and move around.

          I started writing a long reply and eventually came to a point that refuted my arguments - basically my expectations of a firearm (which I have no experience with) being similar to the way you'd handle a bo staff or a sword (both of which I have a few years experience with), which is wrong. Swords and staves are most effective in motion with your weight behind them, so you're always keeping a stable centre of gravity while moving. Firearms are most effective when stationary and braced, so you'd not be too worried about losing your bracing stability while moving the weapon, as long as you were always in a position to immediately reassert that stability.

          But you bring up a good point - most gamers tend to not be familiar with firearms, and have this false image of how one would actually be used effectively. Well, that and they don't look anywhere near as heavy as they actually are (first time I was handed a sword I nearly dropped it from the weight), so motion would obviously be different to what we'd expect.

            Yeah I know that thing with long replies and basically coming to the point where I prove myself wrong. Its fascinating, because I learn something doing it, even though it feels a bit like time wasted.
            On your point...yes, I would imagine that swords and the like are vastly different in that regard, but I have no experience with that stuff ( I did have a combat knife, but never received much meaningful training with it, it was more a tool than anything else).

            The reasons for bracing a rifle, but also sidearms and making it as much of a part of your body as possible, are many-fold. First, it provides the weapon with high stability to aim. Its also a safety issue for you and your fellow soldiers, as a gun carried disconnected from your body movements has a higher risk of being dropped, bumped into something (or someone, esp in close quarters) and in very close combat, such as urban operations, it could actually be taken from you or knocked out of your hands easily. Last, the recoil of any weapon needs to be taken into account.

            Funny story about this...newbies in our unit were recognizable as such with their shirts off for having visible large bruises on their upper arm or collarbones. This was due to the gun slamming into their bodies because of improper or non-existent bracing, while firing, ie. they held and pointed their weapon like a tool, not like a gun (our standard issue rifle was the G3 chambered in the older NATO 7.62x39, which resulted in considerable recoil, hence the bruise. This might be less of an issue these days with smaller rounds being in widespread use).

              Sounds like you're talking about the rifle extending from your shoulder/upper body, so it's held relatively stationary, tightly against the body, moving as part of your torso; whereas staves are more like a partner moving with you in concert while defending or as an extension or your forearm or an extra limb when attacking. So, yea, very different indeed.

              Yea, I had some idea about how and why bracing would be important, and about not trying to absorb the recoil purely with your arms, leading to impact bruises, as you say. I didn't think about close-quarters - my weapons defence focused on knives and batons, mostly. Handguns were a "fine, take my wallet, don't shoot me" scenario, and anything larger was completely ignored as they'd be pretty difficult to conceal. Swords and staves were introduced later on, but mainly to teach other concepts and improve our existing knowledge and coordination.

              I'm curious, as you seem to be rather knowledgeable about this - is that bracing weakened at all while moving? Or do you mostly use the upper body to absorb the recoil, so stance is less important in that case? (Again, no idea how impact force would be managed, as most of my training was around the idea of getting out of the way and/or deflecting, and anything that dealt with direct impact - forceful kicks, for example - had to be fully grounded or you'd at best fall over or at worst go flying).

                Yes, bracing is significanty weakened as a consequence of moving (ie walking and esp running). Indeed this is why no standard firing drill involves moving over a distance and aimed shooting at the same time. Both my basic and pre-deployment training were clear on this and there are a variety of decent drill videos on youtube showing the correct procedure, ie you move towards the target, stop, aim, shoot, move (usually timed, running over a distance of 20 or 30 metres). There is a different bracing technique purely for securely holding your rifle while running too (the exact technique varies from service to service, also depends on the weapon carried), there are also a variety of bracing methods for sidearms depending on environment (generally pistols need to be held much closer to the body in close quarters etc).

                Funnily enough I carry over a lot of what I have learned into how I play games (ie I rarely "run and gun", I detest most full auto weapons for anything other than fire supression and prefer single shot or burst etc). Depending on he game such gameplay can be rewarding or very frustrating, ie some games kind of expect you to spray the area. I kind of liked the old Delta Force games by Novalogic.

                Last edited 15/05/13 8:49 pm

          But in a game I can't lean around my gun or do whatever the heck I want with it, I can simply point it around the digital environment with 1 little plastic stick and move my body around the digital environment with another little plastic stick. I have no sense of the gun against my shoulder and pivoting etc etc. My gun goes where my finger wants it to go. I suppose it comes down to what you've learnt and what feels natural to you as an individual. Not what you'd do in real life with a real gun. I am comfortable playing with normal controls so that's how I play. In Halo 4 when they put you into the aircraft in one stage, the controls in aircraft were set to inverted and I could not play at all, crashing left, right and center. Changed to normal and didn't die once. If it's the same for you with inverted controls then cool.. Keep up the good work. It's not like if they put a real gun in my hand then I'm gonna be looking the opposite vertical direction than I want to because of it haha.

            Technically one stick controls your feet, the other one controls your upper body movement. Same on PC, WASD for your feet, mouse for your torso. Thats what I mean. In real life a rifle moves as extension of your torso. You do not lean or move "around" your gun, your gun moves with you. In games there is no need to feel the gun against your shoulder, the game does that for you, in a manner of speaking. Yes, it comes down what feels natural, thats what I basically said in my first comment. And what seems natural, may not actually reflect reality. The "inverted" form actually represents realistic torso movement very well. Hand or arm movements are of course a different aspect, but to my knowledge no game actually simulates such limb movements. That would likely require some form of VR glove for controls anyway.

            Last edited 16/05/13 3:24 am

      @Matthew K, you give me hope for the future of our species. This is an outstanding explanation!

      Very well put, 10 Points! The interesting conclusion would be, that "inverted" players basically immerse themselves more in their game, whereas "normal" players consider it an abstract interaction. Of course there are those cases, who do both on different systems, but I am guessing, the explanation for that would be found somewhere else.


      Or at least, so long as I'm playing console games. Haven't really been a PC gamer at all, but I can't imagine using inverted on a keyboard and mouse setup. Actually, even with Metroid Prime Hunters I had to go non-inverted.

      Stuff kind of in relation to Kermitron's post above:
      Where things start to get weird is third person camera control. Sometimes my mind seems to fold over on itself and one particular way seems wrong. But then the other way seems wrong too.

      The most confusing time I ever had was with Wet. In terms of Y-axis, I was fine. Inverted all the way. The X-axis though, that's where things got interesting. In that game, you use a pair of guns, one of which aims at a targeted enemy, while the second is aimed manually by your second analogue stick, with a reticule that is permanently centred on-screen. While I'm aiming, I push the stick left to aim left and right to aim right. But when I'm not aiming and want to just move the camera around though, I start to try and push right to move the camera's position to the right, so that it rotates around my character and looks left. And vice-versa.

      Biggest mindfuck I've ever had playing a game.

    I always get loads of grief for this on going argument, inverted represent... It can be a pain though when playing a game where you have to constantly hand over the controller. I cannot remember why I started playing in inverted compared to normal, is it something that you just pick up and go or do people find they develop a liking over time?

    With an analogue stick, almost always inverted.
    I grew up playing Xwing on PC with a joystick, and I think pulling back to lift the nose influenced my preference.
    Mouse I barely notice anymore, mostly non-inverted, but inverted on 3rd person games.

    I play Normal most of the time there are only select games where I want to change it to inverted.

    Inverted for life! Drives me nuts when mates come over and have to change it. Although I drive them even more nuts because I think I'm the only inverted of our group.

    somehow i've managed to become inverted for both axis and most games don't support it. I've tried changing to no avail... many games are unplayable for me now :'( stupid brain...

    Normal, except for flight sims. I didn't see that option, so didn't vote :\

    Most games, I have to switch it a couple of times to figure out which way works for me. FFXII doesn't let me switch though, and I know that that way is the wrong way for me.

      I got around that issue on FF12 by emulating it on PC and customising my controller options in the emulator so that the right joystick is inverted on the vertical axis and normal on the horizontal axis. So much more enjoyable :)

      On a side note; how many inverted people also invert the horizontal axis? For some reason I can adjust eventually to an inverted horizontal axis (in 3rd person games only) but I generally hate it as much as I hate a normal vertical axis.

      Edit: And vice versa? How many normal people invert the horizontal axis?

      Last edited 15/05/13 2:07 pm

        I think it was actually the horizontal that was giving me trouble in FFXII.

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