For a serious and dedicated gamer, every gaming gear is important and plays a significant role in making a game exciting and satisfying. For spectators, observers, or mere onlookers, they tend to focus more on the computer screen and the action that happens to the characters and the game environment. For gamers, what happens on their computer screen is the result of the collective interaction of their gaming gears and the effort that they put into creating commands that their characters execute. Where does the keyboard fit in all this? Right in the middle of everything. The keyboard, mouse, and headset are important input-output devices in a gamer’s arsenal. So when you’re asked if a gaming keyboard makes a difference when it comes to computer games, the answer is yes. Read on below as we give some of the reasons why.
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The Keyboard is Part of the Package
Before we tackle the specific reasons why a gaming keyboard makes a difference in a computer game, let us look at things from a general perspective. Whether it is for study, office use, or gaming, whatever your purpose is for using a desktop computer, it always comes as a complete package composed of a central processing unit (CPU) or tower, a monitor, and basic input devices (mouse and keyboard). In a computer’s original setup and specifications, it is already a decent unit that can handle regular online and offline games, especially if your computer is the latest model with a multi-core processor with a decent video card and random access memory (RAM). However, for professional online gamers and for avid computer game players, a computer unit that is designed for gaming is the ideal equipment, but for those who are starting to get serious with gaming, tweaking the standard computer settings and setup is the basic step to improve the gaming experience.
Most Commands Originate From the Keyboard
In most computer games, the mouse and keyboard work in tandem when it comes to transmitting commands. The keyboard’s primary function is to receive tactile inputs from the user and transmit these inputs as electrical signals, which will be processed by the CPU and then transmitted to the monitor to display the command given by the user. From a gamer’s perspective, you need a keyboard to make the character being controlled perform the desired set of movements and actions.
A gaming keyboard, in essence, is not so different from a regular keyboard. However, some features and tweaks that make it more suited for use in a game than a standard one. One example is the removal of unnecessary input functions or keypads such as the numeric keypads. A gaming keyboard with such a design is called a TKL keyboard or tenkeyless keyboard. The reason why gamers prefer this kind of keyboard for gaming is that it allows for more freedom of movement due to its compact design. You have a wider area to move your mouse and you have better access to the essential keys in the keyboard for making commands. Also, the possibility of the numeric keypads interfering with game functions is eliminated because you no longer accidentally press these buttons while playing.
Comfort Plays a Big Factor
One of the key benefits of having a gaming keyboard is the comfort in using the keyboard. There are various gaming keyboards available on the market, and one of the common features they provide is having a well-spaced set of keys, whether it is a membrane or a mechanical keyboard. The compact and sleek design many gaming keyboards allow for easy finger movements. Also, another noticeable feature of gaming keyboards is their shape and ergonomics, which often come in rounded edges, having an armrest extension, or having an incline stand for well-rested arms and wrists. Since gamers spend a considerable amount of time playing games, comfort is an important factor in keeping their gaming performance consistent by not straining the hands, wrists, and fingers. Fatigue is another disruptive factor that can be significantly minimized by using a keyboard that provides maximum comfort to your hands.
Typing Speed Matters
As mentioned earlier, the keyboard is an important input device as it transmits the commands you type in. Even though the transmission of information from the keyboard to the computer takes nanosecond speeds, much of it still depends on the speed by which the user types the commands. A millisecond gap between the inputs can have a significant effect on how a game progresses. Thus, gaming keyboards are designed to have more sensitive terminals at every keypad to better receive the inputs from players. Most gamers prefer the mechanical keyboard due to its more tactile feeling and being easier to press than the membrane type. A high-level FPS game, a decisive MMO battle, or a last-minute communication with teammates all need a keyboard that can deliver a rapidly typed command or message. While this factor can’t be easily discerned by observers and spectators, but for gamers, a millisecond difference can be a big factor that can lead to a successful or a disastrous game result.
The more complex a computer game is, the more complex its commands will also be. MMORPGs, strategy games, and other high-level multi-player online games feature a more complex set of commands than the previous incarnations of computer games. While mastery of the commands is important for any gamer, the efficiency in delivering these commands is also an important factor that should be taken into account. Online games particularly, have a large map and environment wherein the characters perform various and often repetitive actions to accomplish missions, quests, and other character enhancement activities.
Having a gaming keyboard that features programmable keypads and macro capabilities can make your gaming experience easier and your playing style more efficient. Being able to create customized macros can allow you to program tedious or often repetitive commands into an easier command with fewer keypad strokes.
For example, for your favorite MMORPG character to perform a high-level offensive move, you need a string of successive commands to pull it off. This can be quite troublesome when you are in a situation where you’ll need to repeatedly use that high-level move. By programming the successive command strings into a few or even a single input or keypad press, you are achieving the desired action faster and you are reducing a delayed reaction or the risk of incorrect input, which could seriously affect your game performance. Introducing automation and macros is no longer considered cheating in the complex gaming environments of MMORPGs and other online games. Thus, a programmable keyboard with macro capabilities is a great feature in a gamer’s arsenal.
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Backlights Help You Through Different Lighting Conditions
Many of the gaming keyboards on the market today have added backlights. They are not just added for aesthetic purposes, but they also serve a practical purpose for gamers. One of which is visible under various lighting conditions. Whether gamers play at home or a certain venue, the amount of illumination they get can vary. Also, some gamers prefer playing under dim lighting conditions to avoid glare and reflection from the screen. Being able to see your keypad even under dim lighting conditions reduces eye strain and reduces the chances of making incorrect commands due to hitting the wrong key.
Portability Matters for On-the-Go Gamers
Most gamers prefer their gaming equipment to be compact and portable, especially pro gamers who participate in gaming tournaments. While most e-game tournaments have sponsor-provided PC units installed in the gaming venue, gamers still need to do some practice games before the actual tournament. The venue computers may be off-limits until the actual gaming day, which is why bring your gaming gear is a must, especially if the venue is far from where you live (e.g. regional or international tournament). This not only applies to team tournaments but also single-player tournaments. Practice, simulation, and warm-up games are necessary for making preparations for e-game competitions and tournaments. The keyboard is an indispensable gaming gear and it needs to be compact and lightweight for easy storing and portability. Bringing a bulky bag or container for your gaming gears can be tiring and inconvenient, not to mention the effort it will take for setting up and disconnecting the parts once the tournament or competition is over. Bringing a lightweight and portable gaming keyboard can help you get started easily and get you accustomed to your new gaming environment.
Durability When it Counts
Gamers may not look like it, but they are kind of users who hit their keypads countless times in a day. Compared to PC users who utilize the keyboard for education or work purposes, the utilization of the keyboard can be frequent, but inconsistent at certain intervals, meaning there may be periods of heavy keyboard use along with periods of rest and minimal use. When there are no reports, projects, or when students and office workers are on their rest days, the keyboards have low to zero utilization. For gamers, the keyboard is used almost daily, and at an optimum to heavy utilization at that. Gamers tend to spend long hours playing a game and repeatedly key in commands for various character actions. The keyboard utilization gets more intense, especially during tournaments and competitions, pushing the limits of the keyboard’s effective useable lifespan.
Gaming keyboards are designed with the heavy utilization of gamers in mind. You may be surprised at the specifications of gaming keyboards indicating a capability of handling millions of keypad taps. For an avid gamer, reaching that many taps can be a very achievable feat. Also, the springs and terminals of the various keypads are made of durable materials to handle various levels of pressure applied during a keystroke. This feature is typically incorporated in mechanical keyboards that are specially designed for gaming. This means your keyboard will not get worn out fast and stays reliable for a long time.
Membrane vs Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
These are two types of gaming keyboards that are available in the market today. When it comes to choosing the right type of gaming keyboard for gamers, it is ultimately a matter of preference.
Both keyboard types are customizable for gaming uses, which means there are added features like custom control pads or modified features such as the removal of the numeric keypads. Here, we’ll just run through some general characteristics to let gamers decide which keyboard type suits their needs best.
Membrane keyboards have a sleek, even look and most of them are lightweight, portable, and quiet when the keys are tapped. This is due to the thin membrane structure underneath the keypads. Next to this membrane layer is a circuit layer, which is activated when depression or pressure is coming from the membrane layer. This is what triggers the transmission of information to the computer and onto the computer screen with every keystroke. Most gaming membrane keyboards have high sensitivity and feedback levels, which means you only have to press lightly to get the command sent and executed. Also, the soft membrane layers reduce or even eliminate noise, making your keyboard operation quiet even during high-intensity games. Some gamers prefer to play in a quiet environment to stay focused on the game, and they prefer a keyboard that gives them just that.
Another keyboard type favored by gamers is the mechanical gaming keyboard. They are characterized by separate key characters, with each key having a mechanical switch using a metal spring. The spring gives the keypads a distinct click and rebound, allowing for a more tactile response. Feedback-wise, the mechanical keyboard also has great sensitivity and feedback levels, which means it can transmit information even when the keypads are pressed halfway down. Mechanical keyboards are generally robust, stable, and durable. Newer designs have taken on minimalistic features, removing unnecessary keypads for gaming such as the num pads. Thus, mechanical keyboards can also be lightweight, portable, and can also be less straining on the wrist and arms.
The keyboard literally and figuratively stands in the middle of the gamer and the game. Because of its important role in delivering a user’s inputs, it is necessary to have a keyboard that matches a particular user’s activity and specifications. Thus, a gaming keyboard can make a remarkable difference when it comes to the gaming experience. Comfort, accuracy, and efficiency are three key factors that are provided by a keyboard designed for gaming. For gamers, achieving these factors and other benefits can make their games more exciting and memorable.