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Left-Handed Gamers Getting Left Behind? 426

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sorry-'bout-that-dad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As the stylus becomes a contemporary equal with the controller and joystick, it is a bit surprising to notice a game developer overlooking the simple fact that there are a lot of southpaw gamers out there. But the creators of Base 10, a mini-game on the DSi, did just that, making it impossible for the game to be played by anyone who isn't right-handed. Seems pretty silly for a game developer to just cut out a slice of their potential audience right from the start."
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Left-Handed Gamers Getting Left Behind?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:43PM (#33589984)
    ...melborp emas eht sah...
  • Impossible? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by curunir (98273) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:43PM (#33589994) Homepage Journal

    ...making it impossible for the game to be played for anyone who isn't right-handed.

    That seems like a bizarre definition of the word impossible. It may be impossible for someone who doesn't have a right hand, but it is possible to build dexterity in your off hand. Just hold the thing like a right handed person. It might take some time to get used to, but it's still possible.

    For instance, the current holder of the last 3 tennis grand slams is naturally right-handed but plays as a lefty. He built the muscle memory necessary be good at it and now it's not a problem for him. I see no reason why tennis would be easier to master with your off hand than a video game would be.

    • Re:Impossible? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@g m a il.com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:47PM (#33590044) Homepage
      Perhaps, but you shouldn't need to do all that just to play a video game.
      • Re:Impossible? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RazorSharp (1418697) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:05PM (#33590354)

        Yeah, but he was just being pedantic. I agree with him that it was a completely inappropriate use of the word "impossible." It's like when people say, "I literally exploded into a fit of rage" when in fact they mean that they figuratively exploded.

        While I agree it was quite an oversight on the developer's part, I also think this is a non-story. A mini-game for the DSi doesn't have the production value to expect them to take every little thing into consideration. There were probably like 2-3 developers, if that, and they were all right handed. And then some left-handed journalist found out about it and tried to make a big deal about it. Lefties have a tendency to believe they're being discriminated against when they're really just occasionally not taken into consideration on accident.

        From the beginning of the DS, high-revenue games have all taken lefties into consideration. Just because ONE mini-game neglected the left-handed minority doesn't mean that "left-handed gamers are being left behind."

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Lefties have a tendency to believe they're being discriminated against when they're really just occasionally not taken into consideration on accident.

          Wow, that sounds like most people who don't get what they want anymore...

    • Why does he play left handed? I understand guitarists playing right-hand guitars when they're left handed (more availability)....
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rich0 (548339)

        Well, if it is anything like baseball it can catch the opponent off-guard. I imagine that most tennis players don't practice as much returning left-handed serves/etc. In baseball the right-fielder usually is stronger than the left-fielder, so a left-handed batter can hit the ball towards a less proficient opponent. Switch hitters are particularly prized since they make it even more difficult for the defense to react. Left-handed pitchers have similar advantages.

        Basically, your opponent has spent thousan

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by curunir (98273) *

        As I understand it, his coach identified high-bouncing balls to the opponent's backhand as the most difficult to handle and tailored his player/nephew's game to hit balls with an absurd amount of top spin towards the majority of players backhand side. Over the course of a match, reaching up to hit that shot will also cause the player to expend a lot of energy. His game has evolved to rely less on that, but it was still an incredibly effective strategy that he used to win titles immediately upon turning pro

    • by zn0k (1082797)

      Roughly one in ten people on the face of the Earth is left-handed. Affectionately referred to as "Lefties" or "Southpaws", there are those of us who possess a genetic predisposition from the day we're born to use a hand most people out there would forget about if it wasn't for certain activities and personally, it is pretty fun to be unique for the most part.

      He also has an interesting definition of 'unique' - one in ten apparently qualifies. Generally speaking the quality of writing in that article is lacki

      • Re:Impossible? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Haffner (1349071) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:16PM (#33590506)
        I'm inclined to agree - he sensationalizes the whole time, yet never explains why the game is impossible to play with one's right hand.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by chriso11 (254041)

          I was curious too - What was the exact problem? I found a youtube video of the game. There is at least one significant example - during gameplay, numbers come across the screen from the left side to the right. A lefty would block much of the left part of the screen with their hand while playing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dyingtolive (1393037)
          I was annoyed by the article. It seemed like pointless whining for the most part. I actually had to go hunting independently for a review of the game just so that I could find out what the problem was. It's because the way you hold the DS might partially obscure one of the screens when you're playing this game. Hardly worth of the level of bitching happening here.
    • Did said Tennis player spend most of his life playing tennis with his right, though?

      I myself am a south-paw, but I learned to do many things right handed from the start, such as guitar, or shooting a gun. Re-training yourself to utilizing something akin to a writing/drawing utensil, after having done it for 10 or more years, can be a little difficult, I'm sure.

    • by fruitbane (454488)

      This is true, though difficult for someone who just wants to play a game. That said, I read somewhere that most lefties are better with their right hands than most righties are with their left. Whether this is innate or a result of learning to interact in a right-handed world I know not.

    • That seems like a bizarre definition of the word impossible. It may be impossible for someone who doesn't have a right hand, but it is possible to build dexterity in your off hand.

      I've known left-handers whose right hand might as well have been a withered stump flapping in the breeze. I'm no longer surprised that there are those who lack the ability/will to adapt to a different setup.

      • Re:Impossible? (Score:5, Informative)

        by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:52PM (#33591112)

        I've known left-handers whose right hand might as well have been a withered stump flapping in the breeze. I'm no longer surprised that there are those who lack the ability/will to adapt to a different setup.

        Gotcha.

        If the game was designed for left-handed people and didn't accomodate righties right handed people would play it for 5 minutes call it a shit game with lousy controls... and they would be CORRECT!

        But apparently if its designed for righties but not lefties, "you are longer surprised that there are those who lack the ability/will to adapt to a different setup." instead of recognizing that the controls are lousy.

        Designing a video game with customizeable or reversible controls is trivial, and suggesting that left handed people should just learn to play them offhanded is just plain ignorant.

        I've got a Wii, and I'm surprised at the number of games that fail to offer proper left handed support, even though it would be generally trivial.

        Wii sports allows you (and even lets you choose handedness for each sport which is great because I golf right handed (due to having no access to left handed clubs growing up) but I bat, tennis, and bowl left handed; so that's a really nice touch.

        Many of the other mini-games titles aren't so considerate. A frisbee minigame in one title in particular can't cope at all with a left handed movement. There are other examples as well.

        Metroid Prime 3 for example comes to mind as a less severe example, its entirely playable left handed so no problem, but it would be even better if it let you reverse the model. Its a little jarring as a leftie, holding the remote in the dominant hand and the nunchuk in the offhand to throw the grapple and have samus throw it with the other hand. This occasionally impacts gameplay in small ways -- when up against an obstacle that blocks one side of the sreeen. I attempt to throw the grapple and its a clear shot, but samus attempts the throw from the other hand and hits an obstable. (It very rarely comes up as an issue, but when it does its jarring and annoying.)

        If a right handed player were playing right-handedly, and samus was designed 'left handed', I'm sure they'd probably find it similiarly jarring, and would call the controls 'unpolished'.

        Given just how trivial it is to support left handed players in these titles, I'm surprised more don't.

    • I read the whole article, and the author's main complaint seems to be that the game itself doesn't have an in game "left hand/right hand option." He didn't actually attempt to play the game, he just poked around in different menus trying to configure it. Maybe it was symmetrical enough that no option was needed? I don't have a DSi and I'm right handed, but if someone wants to convince me that a game is unplayable left handed, wouldn't you have to at least attempt to play it? Clarification would be nice.

    • Because when I play a video game, I want to have fun, not put in the same amount of effort it would take to win a tennis grand slam. I already write fine with my left hand, I don't want to learn to write with my right hand just to play a video game. Actually I might, but that's just because I'm more obsessed with video games than some people. But I don't WANT to.
  • I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:44PM (#33589996) Journal

    How do you play Base10 and why does not having a left handed mode ruin it?

    Even Rock Band/Guitar Hero was operable with Lefties before they added Lefty mode, you simply needed to associate colours to positions instead of directional left and right.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DarkIye (875062)
      Pretty much my thoughts. Additionally, the author of the article is a long-winded, uppity nerd.
    • by hardburn (141468)

      Good demo [youtube.com]

      Numbers pile up in "digital alarm clock" style. You have to connect up numbers so they add up to 10. Since it's "digital" number style, 2's can be reversed to become 5's (and likewise 5's into 2's). The numbers continue to pile up in Tetris-like fashion, and you lose when the numbers fill up the top. Connecting up sums of 10 will remove those numbers.

      The game is played with the DSi on its side with the numbers coming from the left and sitting on the right. I could see how this might be somewhat d

  • lulwut? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:44PM (#33590004) Homepage

    I find it odd that TFA focuses on the Nintendo DS...which is possibly the most left-handed friendly system out there, aside from the Nintendo Wii. Most DS games that require one hand on the stylus and one hand on the system either duplicate the controls on both sides, or allow you to swap controls from one side to the other.

    You would think more focus would have been on shaped gaming mice, which are almost exclusively made for righties.

    • I know eh?

      Then again, people have been going after Nintendo for their non-left-handed controllers since NES/SNES/N64 controllers (despite no one having a solid controller for it till like 1998, and games not supporting it till 2000)

      I think its that people wrote a glorious article way back which actually brought attention to the issue and it was mostly fixed. So when they want to relive those days so they are rehashing their article.

      The DS and Wii are singlehandedly the most ambidextral systems to date.

      • >>>since NES/SNES/N64 controllers (despite no one having a solid controller for it till like 1998, and games not supporting it till 2000)

        Which "solid controller" are you talking about?

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:46PM (#33590032) Journal

    The joystick or joypad is on the left side, my non-dominant hand, ever since the NES days.

    • To clarify:

      I grew up playing Atiari/Commodore with right handed sticks. Then suddenly the joystick/joypad was moved to the left side: my "wrong" hand. But you don't see me whining about it. Well... I did whine a little bit back in 1990, but then I adjusted.

      • I believe the DPad was put ont he left side to account for the growing popularity of WASD for movement controls on computers - as less people were using Arrow keys.

        OR I have it backwards, and wasd came about because of the switch in DPad location.

        • >>>I believe the DPad was put ont he left side to account for the growing popularity of WASD for movement controls on computers -

          NES with its left-handed joypad was first released as the "famicom" in 1983. Back then computers were barely an issue. The #1 selling computers of the time (Radio Shack TRS-80 and Atari 400/800) only sold 1 million units versus 30 million for the Atari console. It would have been more logical to copy the right-handed controls of the console.

          I'm not sure why Nintendo ma

  • Nintendo should just update the BIOS with a config option that swaps the meaning of the d-pad and button array. Lefties can then use the X-B-Y-A instead of U-D-L-R.

    • by seebs (15766)

      That would be a great idea for solving a problem completely and totally unrelated to the problem at issue.

      Here's a review of Base 10:

      http://ds.ign.com/articles/100/1004859p1.html [ign.com]

      Have a look at it, and then tell us whether swapping the button controls that are never used in the game would have any impact on its accessibility to lefties.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        I don't follow. A stylus is symmetrical, it should be usable by both lefties and righties.

        • The game in question apparently is played with the DS in a horizontal mode (with the screens side by side rather than above and below.) Game elements come from the left and move to the right. You apparently use the stylus on the right side screen. If you are holding the stylus with your left hand and writing on the right side screen, then the left side screen is under your hand and you can't see what is coming. However also based on the description it doesn't seem like it would be all that difficult to just

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        Did that reviewer really complain about the difficulty of adding numbers up to 10? Is he 5 years old?

  • A lot of left handed people buy right-handed guitars when the guitar they want comes in left-handed. You can learn to play a damn game right handed if it's not possible. And what would they do for left-hand mode here anyway? Switch to left-aligned text? Mirror?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by edremy (36408)
      Seriously. Ever seen a left handed violin or viola? If you play in an orchestra, you're going to play right handed. Doesn't matter if you're a lefty. Out of curiosity I flipped my guitar one day to play like Hendrix. (He played a right-handed Strat upside down) I could do it- I was really, really bad, but I wasn't any worse than when I picked up a guitar for the first time. I'm certain I could relearn the muscle motions to finger right handed and strum left, it would just take time. But it wouldn't
    • A lot of left handed people buy right-handed guitars when the guitar they want comes in left-handed. You can learn to play a damn game right handed if it's not possible. And what would they do for left-hand mode here anyway? Switch to left-aligned text? Mirror?

      Restringing a right handed guitar to make it lefty friendly is quite a bit different than swapping a digital control scheme. Especially when the DS has y,x,a,b buttons on the other side of the screen that could easily be swapped with the control pad.

      That's why I play guitar right-handed, thats why I taught myself to use a right-handed mouse, thats why I've had to learn to use most power tools right-handed. Physical goods can't be flipped easily, it requires it's own assembly line, smaller production runs m

    • by blair1q (305137)

      A lot of left handed people buy right-handed guitars when the guitar they want comes in left-handed.

      That's just so they can claim to be just like this dude [soulculture.co.uk].

      BTW, some right-handed people buy left-handed guitars for exactly the same reason, and you can even get right-handed guitars with inverted necks [bbc.co.uk] to fuel your pretense^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^hhomage.

  • since handedness is significant when wielding a sword / pistol / tennis racket / ping pong paddle &c.

    While Nintendo has been very good about providing the option to select handedness, other companies haven't been as acommodating --- Red Steel 2 in particular requires right-handed sword-wielding and some of the combinations seem to be difficult to enact (and visually confusing on-screen) when done left-handed.

    William

  • If the revenue from left handed market cost of developing for left handed people then it makes sense from a business perspective. Keep in mind that there's probably left-handed people who buy it and play it right-handed anyway if they really want it, so the market they're cutting out may not be as big as you'd first assume.
    • Preview fail (and I did preview):

      If the revenue from left handed market < cost of developing for left handed people then it makes sense from a business perspective.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javelinco (652113) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:50PM (#33590110) Journal
    Does anyone understand WHY the writer of this article can't play the game left handed? I read through the FA multiple times (yes, I know - hard to believe), but I don't see any explanation of what specifically the game requires that cannot be done by a left handed user. Any further clarification would be welcome.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Verdatum (1257828)
      4 seriously. Why did that guy need so many words to write so little? All I know from TFA is that it's a puzzle game. Because he did not support his argument with details, I had to re-read it just to check and see if it wasn't some unfunny gag article. If you're gonna bitch about crappy games, do it right. Watch some of the better episodes of The Angry Video Game Nerd for guidance.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Captain Spam (66120)

      Does anyone understand WHY the writer of this article can't play the game left handed? I read through the FA multiple times (yes, I know - hard to believe), but I don't see any explanation of what specifically the game requires that cannot be done by a left handed user. Any further clarification would be welcome.

      I'm just taking a stab in the dark here, but knowing the DS, chances are what happened with this game is that it requires one hand on the stylus and one hand on the D-pad at all times (sure, it's worse than "one hand on stylus and press D-pad or face buttons once in a while", but it's certainly better than "both hands on D-pad and face buttons AND be able to switch to the stylus quickly"... the DS Viewtiful Joe game, I'm looking at you...). That is, this particular player plays with the stylus naturally in

    • by sorak (246725)

      I have the exact same question. Someone in the comments said that you can't play it without your left hand covering one of the screens, but from the game play video I have seen it doesn't look like that screen is used anyway.

      So, I guess slashdot has come up with a new idea; TFA-teasing. They tease you with the hint of a story, and hundreds of interested readers beg for the actual story.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chyeld (713439) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dleyhc.> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @03:25PM (#33591624)

      This is one of those games where you aren't holding the DS in the typical orientation of 'top screen - LCD - bottom screen - touch'. Instead you hold it so the lcd screen is vertical on the left hand side and the touch screen is vertical on the right hand side.

      You are meant to hold the DS in the left hand and use the right hand to play. It becomes cumbersome to do it in the reverse.

      Many games that have this layout are designed so that the you could swap the screen positions without particular issue (i.e. the touch screen is used soley as an input device/stats screen) and so include the option to flip it all 180 degrees so the touch screen can be on the left side and the right hand can hold the DS.

      This game isn't designed in a manner that would allow that, even if they attempted to include that option. So it truly is a 'righty only' game.

      And while I appreciate that many people are sufficiently ambidextrous that they can function using their right hand for some tasks, it is not a universal thing that everyone who is left handed can simply 'train' to use their right hand in place of it.

      Yes, I am left handed. Yes, I spent the majority of my elementary school life being punished by teachers because the leading belief in child development at the time was that 'left handed children are really all ambidextrous and should use to learn their right hand as soon as possible.' Meaning when I consistently couldn't do what they asked of me for five straight years, it was assumed that I was either lazy, 'special', or obstinate.

  • Unless you look for a generic unshaped mouse/trackball. You're out of luck.

    I was forced to learn to use a right handed trackball, since I wanted a shaped one. It was easier to learn to use my right hand than try to find a left handed or one of the crappy ambidextrous ones.

    Logitech [logitech.com] out of all their trackballs, only makes one that is ambidextrous, and it's crap.

    • by JazzyJ (1995)

      Logitech makes 'thumb marbles'...not trackballs... I don't care what they call 'em, not a single one of them are a full sized trackball.

      Kensington's Expert Mouse trackball has always been ambidexterous and provides for switching the buttons in the drivers/companion software. Love these things. Have used 'em for well over a decade.

      http://us.kensington.com/html/2200.html [kensington.com]

      In fact, -all- of kensington's trackballs are ambidexterous.

    • by ajlitt (19055)

      You're [razerzone.com] welcome. [newegg.com]

  • Design video games exclusively for southpaws. If they're anything like the rest of humanity, they'll be happy to pay a premium for the exclusivity.

  • I don't imagine keyboard gamers on the PC have this issue, it takes equal parts coordination to use the mouse and the keyboard simultaneously. Most Joysticks
    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      (continued from before) Most Joysticks can be played with either hand to my understanding as well.
    • My son, a lefty, uses the mouse in his right hand. I, on the other hand, a righty, most often use my left hand to manipulate the mouse. I made the switch one year when I broke my right arm. After the cast was removed, I found that mousing with my non-dominant hand left my dominant hand free for (limited) typing, writing notes, or dialing the phone.
  • by Ignorant Aardvark (632408) <.cydeweys. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:55PM (#33590186) Homepage Journal

    So I spent the time to read that overly long article, and the author doesn't even say why he can't play the game with his left hand? I understand he looked through the menus for an option and didn't find one, but what specifically is going on in the game that makes it impossible to play with his left hand? This seems like the central point of the whole story, and yet it is left unexplained.

  • Left-handed Gamers Getting Left Behind?

    I always knew left handers had no souls.

  • Most controllers require a similar amount of dexterity from each hand. If the NES had put the buttons on the left and the d-pad on the right, we'd think that was "normal" and "right-handed" today. I think this is less about left-handed gamers and more about a guy who had personally become used to one control layout having to switch to another (and writing a rant about the harrowing ordeal).

  • Sit upside down (or turn your TV upside down), and turn the controller upside down.

    Voila! You are now holding the stylus with your dominant hand!

  • a game developer would overlook the simple fact that there is a large amount of gamers out there who are Southpaws.

    It's roughly 15% of the population. It's far from the majority, but I guess it's up to the manufacturer whether or not they want to cater to this population. Certainly lefties are adaptable people and used to living in a right hand world... aren't they supposed to be the creative ones?

    • by taustin (171655)

      So far as I can tell, it's actually more like 10%, or a little less.

      What's the percentage of home users who use Mac? Roughly comprable, I suspect, and it's usually not profitable to court that segment of the market, either.

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:00PM (#33590268)

    It's hard for left handers because you hold the DS sideways and write on one of the screens. Since you have to write on the right screen, lefties can't see the left screen through their hand.

    http://gofanboy.com/nds-reviews/407-art-style-base-10-review [gofanboy.com]

    • by sorak (246725)

      MOD PARENT UP!

      You actually know what this guy was bitching about. Good! Now I can get back to work.

  • I remember every gaming system that had a controller with a joystick having said joystick on the left side of the controller. Some also had joysticks on both sides. The DS is incredibly lefty-friendly and just because one game blows it doesn't mean the entire platform, no, the entire industry is biased towards right-handers. This article is nothing but FUD and I wish I could retract the click I gave TFA.
    • I agree entirely. Less bitching and maybe a less sensationalist title is in order. "The DSi and Lefties Left Out"? Please....
      Next thing you know, he'll be bitching about scissors being made for right handers like it's something new.
  • pretty lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:07PM (#33590380)

    As if left handed people didn't already have to deal with can openers, measuring cups, drill presses, soup ladles, catcher's mitts, rulers, spiral bound notebooks, pens with slow drying ink, and countless other devices that are made for use by right handed people.

    Get a clue, we deal with these things. We CAN do stuff right handed.

  • by axismundi (997660) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:08PM (#33590388)
    I once knew a guy who worked as a video game tester in Baltimore (for Absolute Quality). He had no right hand, just a stump. I'll never forget getting my arse completely stomped by him in any and every game we played together. The advent of the mini joystick (versus 8-way D-pad) on the N64 forward allowed him to play on the same level as anyone else.
  • ... has long since learned to do various task right-handed. it's a right handed world. i seriously doubt there is any leftie that is completely inept with their right hand.

  • by wbav (223901) <Guardian.Bob+Slashdot@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:20PM (#33590570) Homepage Journal
    Here's why [ign.com].

    If you look, the game holds the DSI sideways. There are important values on the left, while picking numbers on the right. If you're playing, you're constantly covering the left screen with your left hand when using the stylus on the right side.
  • yet one more way where pc gaming is better.

    Most pc games let you remap keys and when the game does not there is 3rd party software that will let you.

    Pinball also is not fixed to left or right hand play.

  • It's not *that* difficult to learn right-handedness, at least for video games. It might take a month or two, but keep at it, you'll get it. It's sort of like learning to touch-type, it's tedious work but pays off in the long run.

    A fun dinner party trick I learned was left-handed chopsticks. When I moved to Asia, I had really never used chopsticks before, but it only took about two weeks to learn. Then, I learned that I had learned wrong. I had to re-learn the correct grip, and that was another two we

  • I'm bothered by the number of left-handers that take the adapt stance and do various task using right handed gear. It is my view that for our left handed brothers and sisters yet unborn we should instead demand (with our wallets and if necessary our generally unexpected left hooks to right handed peoples faces =p) left handed gear.

    I don't see why Nintendo shouldn't hear about this it should have been simple enough to make a left hand mode for this game and there is no reason why I or other left-handed peo

  • "Seems pretty silly for a game developer to just cut out a slice of their potential audience right from the start."

    That depends on how much it costs (financially or in game play) to include that slice. One-size-fits-all also frequently means one-size-that-doesn't-quite-fit-anyone, and it's up to the designer and the bean counters to decide which works best.

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