Gamepads vs Gaming Keyboards


WASD or gamepad?

Unlike most people at this website, I can’t brag that my first gaming experience with Pong led me to the gaming fanatic I am today.  I started my love for gaming when my stepdad inherited a little change and bought a giant satellite dish for the backyard, new bikes for myself and my brothers, and a little box known as the Super Nintendo.  I spent many, many hours as a little Italian plumber jumping around kicking the crap out of King Koopa.

From there I went down the line, briefly owing a Sega Dreamcast and playing the crap out of Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo’s latest machine (at the time).  While playing the N64 I discovered Duke Nukem 3D, easily one of my more favorite games of all time.  It was at this point that I discovered that games were not just on consoles, there was a whole new world opening up for me in the world of 3D entertainment.  I had played Wolfenstein 3D on my Dad’s computer back in 1995, but it seems I was too young to really grasp where the gaming industry was going back then.

It was when I made the transition from “strictly console gamer” to “strictly PC gamer” that I started to lose my feel for the gamepad.  The mouse and keyboard seemed to feel so much more natural to me, and the maneuvers I could perform on a PC completely overshadowed the unholy mess I would make on a gamepad.  As I write this I am fully capable of completing every portion of Left 4 Dead with sweet precision.  I am the king of the headshot!  But you stick me in front of this game with a gamepad and I guarantee you will be voting me off the campaign within the first minute.  I seriously couldn’t aim worth a damn.

And the world of USB gamepads is becoming more and more available every day.  While doing research for the B.Y.O.C. article I wrote last year at PAX I noticed that about 20% of the gamers had a USB gamepad plugged in and were tearing up the virtual world without sweating.  There are hundreds of gamepads available online now, and they only multiply.  And since the wonderful people at Microsoft created the Xbox 360, their controller works perfectly on a Vista machine.  Walking through Wal-Mart the other day to pick up recordable media, I noticed that along with the major console gamepads, they have also started carrying the Philips USB Retractable gamepad.  It would seem that the world of console and PC gaming is slowly merging.