Is A Keyboard Better Than a Controller for Gaming?

The controller vs mouse/keyboard argument is probably one of the most contentious issues in gaming.

In the early days of gaming, the answer was pretty straightforward – PC gamers used keyboards and mice and game console owners used controllers.

But now that more video games are developed to be played cross-platform, this question is showing up again after years of silence.

Let’s take a dive into the murky waters of gaming peripherals and see if we can drag an answer to the surface.

What types of games do you play?

Certain types of games are better suited to different input methods.

That’s a fancy way of saying “It depends on what type of games you play most often”.

Controllers are ideal for anyone playing a game where there’s a limited number of “keys” required i.e. FPS (First Person Shooters) or scrolling platformers.

But once you start delving into the world of MMORPG games or complex flight sims you’ll find that controllers just do not have enough buttons to replace the 102 keys you’ll find on a standard keyboard or gaming keyboard.

In-game Assists

In the earliest days of cross-platform gaming people using controllers were simply not able to compete with players using keyboards and mice.

I was there. I saw it. It was hilarious.

Controller players lost their minds (and their pride) when they went up against PC gamers.

So gaming companies modified the games to allow controller users to basically get “assisted” aiming…because lowering the skill bar meant they had a wider audience to sell to.

Controller players basically just have to aim in the general direction of the other player to score a “hit” that would have been a total miss in PC gaming just a few years ago and aim assist takes care of the rest of for them.

Yes, yes there are some amazing gamers who use controllers but they’re very, very rare.

Every other “pro” controller gamer is using training wheels built into the game for them, so the next time you see a guy dropping from a building doing a 360-degree headshot…now you know how they did that.

I’ve played with and against world champions – none of them ever came close to that level of speed or precision.

And I’m talking about people who would make current e-sports players look like they’re moving in slow motion.

Using a PC mouse and keyboard

PCs come with a mouse and keyboard by default so there was no competition for what type of input device would be used for PC gaming.

Yes, you can buy joysticks and steering wheels, flight yokes, etc but these came much later in the game.

Pros of using a mouse and keyboard

  • They’re instantly familiar and comfortable if you own a PC
  • Mouse offers a very wide range of motion
  • Gaming keyboards and mice are very customizable
  • Dozens more keys to use for mapping macros and in-game actions to
  • Your “gaming peripherals” are already attached
  • Keyboards and mice serve a dual purpose, unlike controllers
  • Mechanical keyboards provide a very tactile gaming experience

Cons of mice and keyboards

  • Using a mouse and keyboard for gaming can take a long time to master
  • High-end gaming mice or keyboards can cost hundreds of dollars
  • They’re not intuitive if you’ve only ever used a game controller
  • Extensive use of keyboards and mice involves the risk of repetitive strain injuries (RSI)

Using a gaming controller

Each game console comes with its own controller, with each new generation of a given console adding new features, including everything from haptic (rumble/vibration) feedback responses to RGB lighting.

But the first ever game controllers looked like this – yup that’s a dial with a single button and tennis was really just Pong with a different name stuck on the controller.

Pros of controllers

  • They’re designed with ergonomics in mind so are comfortable to use for hours on end
  • Newer controllers allow very precise game control via multiple control sticks
  • You can enjoy a more immersive experience thanks to rumble feedback, pressure-sensitive triggers, etc.
  • Modern game controllers are wireless and don’t appear to suffer from the same lag issues as wireless keyboards or mouse

Cons of controllers

  • You cannot plug an Xbox controller into a PlayStation – mice, and keyboards just need a USB, so they’re not as flexible
  • Controllers lack the precision of a mouse – analog sticks can’t compare with a mouse for sheer accuracy.
  • Game controllers have fewer buttons to bind game functions to
  • Wireless controllers need to be recharged
  • Wireless controllers can stop working mid-game for no apparent reason

Who should buy a mouse & keyboard?

A mouse and keyboard setup is ideal for FPS gamers, gamers who value accuracy and precision more than anything else. Gamers who want to train to become PC e-sport professionals are always going to use a keyboard and mouse.

A gaming keyboard means you have dozens of buttons at your disposal for macros, binding, and configuration options, meaning you’ll be able to create the perfect keyboard layout for each game.

And then you have all the other bells and whistles like RGB lighting, customizable mechanical switches, etc.

Who should buy a controller?

A controller is ideal for people who want to use a gaming console as their platform of choice, or gamers who move between PC and console gaming on a regular basis.

PCs allow you to use a wide variety of game controllers, so you can migrate your gaming experience from console to PC if you wish.

Games consoles insist on you only being able to use the modern controllers that come with the console but nothing else, so they’re kinda restrictive. 

Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference – what feels most natural and gives you the best performance? 

If you’re still not sure which side to take, why not try out both?

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