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I toy with the idea of purshasing a trackball, because I've heard it will greatly reduce the strain of the hand, that normally occurs when using a mouse. But I have some doubts if it will fit all my needs, because I would use it for a lot of working and playing games.

How well does a trackball go with working and playing games (like Minecraft) where you have to move a lot? What are your experiences? What qualities should a good trackball have?

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I should have mentioned this before, when I answered the question, but questions that ask for shopping advice are prohibited per the faq. To keep this question open, you should probably be asking what to look for in a good trackball rather than asking for specific products. –  Dave DuPlantis Aug 20 '11 at 18:05
    
I just removed the recommendation question, although I don't see any reason for not allowing those questions. –  Joschua Aug 25 '11 at 19:19
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They're not a good fit for this format; what works better is a question about how to find whatever it is you want, so that answers can "teach" you how to do it yourself, and you already have that in your question - asking about qualities that it should have, and particularly asking about experiences, are aspects of a good question for this purpose. –  Dave DuPlantis Aug 25 '11 at 20:20
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Not having to lift and reposition the trackball like you would when a mouse hits the edge of it's pad can be a nice advantage to using a trackball, especially for fps games. On the other hand I find vertical movement harder to control with a track ball. I'll mean to move it just left or right, but end up moving it left or right and a bit up or down too. –  Fambida Sep 5 '11 at 10:09

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I use a trackball for my computer and am an avid gamer. I play many different games (a lot of minecraft, lots of FPS games, lots of RTS games, etc) and feel that I am just as good with the trackball as I used to be with a mouse. I'm also a software engineer, so I use my computer a very large amount of time every day.

Making the switch to a trackball is definitely something you can do and still successfully game. Not everyone likes trackballs, though, so you may regret your purchase. One thing I would stress is that you should try to force yourself to adjust to the trackball if you want to learn to use it. Unplug your mouse and put it away. Make it so your only option is to learn how to use your trackball or don't use your computer. You WILL have to spend some time adjusting, and during that time you WON'T be as good at games as you had been. Don't fret - just keep trying. I'd say I was back to the same skill level within about 2 weeks, but it may be longer or shorter, depending on how well you adjust.

As far as recommendations, I've only ever used one model, the Logitech Trackman Wheel. You may have better luck going into a B&M store and trying out different models and find one that suits your hand shape.

Either way, I'd highly recommend attempting to switch if you're considering it. I haven't regretted my decision in the slightest.

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I have the option to test the Logitech Marble Mouse at my job, where you can switch the hands, because it's symmetric. I like it, but I wonder if I ever can be as fast as with the mouse. Did it took long for you to achieve this? btw. Thanks for your answer! –  Joschua Apr 28 '11 at 19:51
    
@Joschua It took me probably 2 weeks to feel comfortable with it, and then maybe another couple weeks before I felt like I was as good as I was with a mouse. Much like you, I actually started out using it at work, and then I eventually decided to get one for my home computer as well. I figured that I may as well get paid to learn how to use a trackball :) –  Dave McClelland Apr 28 '11 at 20:00

When my primary computer was a desktop, I was using a trackball instead of a standard mouse. I had been using a trackball at work, and I was comfortable enough with it there that gaming at home was not a problem either.

There was one exception. When Diablo II came out, my wrist began to bother me from using the trackball 8 hours a day at work and then hours on end at home too. Before the problems got bad enough to affect work or gaming, I switched the trackball at home to my left hand and taught myself to use it that way. (There may have been a few trackballs designed specifically for lefthanded people at the time, but I think I just took one that was somewhat symmetrical and used it on the left side, mapping the buttons appropriately.) That balanced the load enough to stop the soreness in my wrist, and it also gave me options for situations where, for whatever reason, I couldn't put the trackball on my right.

If you are new to trackballs, and you'll be using one for both work and gaming, then you'll probably want to ease into it gradually. You will be using different muscles, and you don't want to put too much of a strain on them at first. (You should also consider tips like these, especially when you're getting used to the trackball.)

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Personally, I don't like them. However, one of my best friends during college played exclusively with one, and loved it (we played dominantly RTS (Age of Empires II) and TBS (Civilization) games, though he did some RPGs as well).

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Major trackball fan here - I can't stand the amount of real estate that has to be devoted to mouse arenas and I haven't used one for over a decade on any of my computers. While I'm not a competitive player, I've done a little light PVP and a ton of PVE in MMOs, FPSes, RTSes, turn-based games, and pretty much everything else except for racing and fighting games and never felt that the trackball has hindered my control, with the sole exception of having to spin it twice instead of once to turn 180 degrees in most FPS games (which is easily solved by increasing the game's mouse sensitivity setting).

Note that I tend to prefer the Logitech Trackman-style thumb balls. Ambidextrous trackballs put the ball under your fingers, which I've never really gotten the hang of, so I can't say how well they'd work for gaming.

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