I ordered USB versions of the SNES and N64 controllers (NES was on backorder) during a recent online sale. I didn’t pick them up to use with emulators, though. I ordered them because I own a number of games on Steam that seem like they might play nicely with the controllers I grew up using. There’s some nostalgia involved in wanting to play with those specific controllers, of course, but that’s not the entire story.
Ordering these new controllers got me thinking about the gamepad vs keyboard argument. Most of my own friends don’t bother getting into that one, but I’ve seen it pop up on forums often enough. Some folks are super passionate about using a keyboard and mouse for PC games, and can go on at great lengths about why it’s just wrong to play a PC game with a gamepad.
To be fair? I can usually see where they’re coming from. There are a number of games that you get much more precision if you use a keyboard and mouse. I can’t stand trying to do inventory management on a gamepad, and I generally will still use aspects of my keyboard and mouse even if I’m primarily playing with a gamepad.
Now, I’ve got a reason for my weird controller setups. My wrists get sore and tired very quickly which doesn’t go well with marathon gaming sessions at all. It sounds whiny, but I’ve put myself in serious pain by being stubborn before and I’d really rather not hurt myself if I don’t need to. It’s funny when I think about that, though – I feel like I need to explain myself and have a valid excuse for something that should come down to personal preference.
I can already hear comments in my head talking about how no, really, the keyboard and mouse controls on PC games are objectively better because they’ve been made with those controls in mind. Objectively better in theory isn’t the same as objectively better in practice though. If someone plays better and has a better time playing with a gamepad…then for them, the gamepad controls ARE legitimately a better option than keyboard and mouse. It reminds me of when people want to tell me what is objectively the best build in a game, ignoring the fact that my personal playstyle might make that build horrible for me. There can be a by-the-numbers best build or control scheme that still doesn’t work for everyone.
Too much focus on any one control scheme over another is also not so great for promoting accessability in games. There’s an idea that easier control schemes are dumbing things down, but to me that’s ignoring the fact that it’s possible to be super into gaming and also have wrist issues or other physical problems that make some controls harder than others. Accessibility in games is a huge topic of its own and deserves its own post at some point, but for today I’m just saying that being a jerk about how someone plays a game is not a great start.
For myself, I’m looking forward to seeing how some of my games play on something other than my Xbox controller. I have a few in mind that might work just about perfectly. 🙂