The argument that launched a thousand Reddit posts
If I know anything about gamers, it’s that we have really strong opinions about even the most trivial of details. To an outside observer, or as some call them, normies, playing a video game on a mouse and keyboard versus a controller seems like it wouldn’t make any difference at all. But we know better.
True story — when I told one of my close friends I wanted to write this article, he advised me not to because he didn’t want people freaking out and harassing me. It feels like a bit of an overreaction to a mildly controversial topic in the grand scheme of things, but I think his concern speaks to how seriously we all take this. Hell, my even pitching this to the Destructoid team internally bred a bit of (playful) infighting.
So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on why I prefer to use a controller when I’m playing a game, and it’s a ship I will go down with.
To start, I think it’s worth pointing out my bias here — growing up my family never had a PC strong enough to run any games, so my entire gaming experience took place on a few different consoles. Much like in the rest of life, I think whichever way we started dictates how we feel about it now, so I bet if I had played more games on a keyboard growing up, I wouldn’t be as partial to the controller. But that’s just how it went down for me, so controllers already had a head start.
Of course, now that I’m older and a bit more seasoned as a gamer, I certainly have other reasons for maintaining this preference. Part of the reason is that I did almost all of my work on a computer growing up in school, and now I obviously do all of my work on a computer. A keyboard feels like a tool of labor, not leisure. On the off chance I do play a game on my PC, there’s a weird part of me deep down inside that doesn’t feel like I’m allowed to have fun at all, because that’s not what this machine is for.
Another reason is that when I was in high school and doing a lot of cheerleading and gymnastics, I had to have a cyst removed from my left wrist. I don’t want to go into too much gory detail, but basically the surgery messed up some of the nerves in my left hand.
Typing is generally fine, but when I have to use WASD, I really struggle with the fine motor movements of my fingers, especially with my ring finger and pinky. At best it’s uncomfortable, at worst it’s really painful. Only using my thumbs and forefingers on a controller is 1000% more pleasant for me, and I refuse to give that up. Mice and keyboards were adapted to be used for gaming, while controllers were designed for it.
Of course, I can’t discount the many situations where using a mouse and keyboard is inarguably better. Take first-person shooters for example — there’s no doubt that using a controller inhibits reaction time to a certain extent. Pro players almost always use mouse and keyboard because they can be quicker and more accurate by a large margin. Of course, the immediate counter is that pro Rocket League players will often use a controller, because it’s better suited for the gameplay.
Mouse and keyboard also reigns supreme in other genres, like point-and-click adventures, MMOs, and MOBAs, just to name a few. I’ve played Disco Elysium on both PC and PS4, and the PC playthrough was hands down the best when it came to the controls. When you’re doing things in a game like looking for clues at a crime scene, it’s way better to simply click on the area of the screen you want, rather than fumbling with a joystick.
I don’t personally play any MMOs or MOBAs, but based on my limited experiences with them, I know they require a lot of different inputs, so having dozens of keys to choose from and bind custom commands to makes a lot of sense. But like I said I don’t play those games, so I don’t need a keyboard.
To stir up another highly controversial debate, I like to think of it in terms of Celsius and Fahrenheit — they are more useful depending on whether you’re doing scientific calculations or looking at everyday weather reports, but just because you prefer one in a certain situation doesn’t mean the other should be discounted altogether. You also tend to prefer the method you were taught to use from a young age. Sound familiar?
Look, I’m not saying mouse and keyboard is a bad way to play games. It’s just not the one I prefer to use. Why is mouse and keyboard your go-to? Why do you think a controller is the superior way to play? Is there a specific mouse or controller you swear by? Let’s talk it out in the comments.