Keyboard/Mouse VS Controllers For Games

An age old rivalry that has existed between gamers apart from the usual war between consoles and PC is of the preferred medium of interface to interact and play games with. Consoles have been popular with the consumers with its portable and handy controller setup whereas PCs have always used the Keyboard/Mouse (herein referred to as KB/M) setup even apart from the gaming scene for its input interface. 10-15 years ago we couldn’t have imagined PCs being used with any other combination to get around, right now we also have touch interface to interact with PCs but still not as popular as the KB/M combo.

Whenever KB/M vs Controller is mentioned, it is quickly assumed and stated that KB/M combo takes over controllers any day in regarding to shooters, mainly First Person Shooters. Although many also say that KB/M combo triumph the traditional Gamepad/Controller in Third Person Shooters as well. First Person Shooters have mainly been dominant on PCs with the KB/M combo but now ever since the first Halo came out on the original Xbox, revolutionizing FPS genre on consoles and other titles building on upon the concept and even surpassing the original concept in many ways, it can be easily said that the Controller is no slouch when compared to KB/M after seeing the results of the increasing online gamers on the console platform.

Many state that the Controller is only better for Fighting/Beat ‘Em Up genre and platform titles and even Third Person Shooters but many still continue to believe that First Person Shooters are still better suited to the KB/M combo. They are not entirely wrong when they say that, given how you can be extremely precise with the Mouse when aiming whereas on Controllers you may hit a dead zone or you can’t achieve better sensitivity settings when aiming with the analog stick. But ever since Halo, developers of FPS titles on consoles have been optimizing and adapting well to the Controllers so that the gamer who chooses to game on console can have the same smooth experience whether aiming, firing a weapon or driving a vehicle.

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Another such debate that arises when KB/M vs Controller is mentioned is of the buttons. Granted that a Keyboard has the many buttons advantage and a player can also modify and map to his favourite keys, it can also serve as a double-edged sword, that is, too many buttons to remember which action they perform. To a causal gamer, they get pretty confused and have to spend a good few seconds by looking directly at the Keyboard and figuring out which button to hit. Sometimes even veteran gamers of the KB/M combo can be hit such confusion which ultimately lowers the reaction time of a gamer.

Controllers on the other hand have a few buttons on them with each button mapped by the developers, with many developers also presenting the option of mapping to the buttons you like, which in turn lets the players adapt easily with the buttons. Since the shape of the Controllers for their specific platform rarely change by the console manufactures, with the exception of third-party controllers, players can easily adapt onto a controller and its buttons whereas there are many types of Keyboards, with different shapes, some offering a bit of a different spacing than others, some donning big keys, some small, hence there is no specific shape or size standard with the Keyboards as it offers you a variety to be chosen from. There are specific gaming Keyboards and Mice available by many manufacturers but their cost also comes in the way for many gamers.

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Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard.
One Of The Examples Of A Gaming Keyboard.

One of the dominating sections of KB/M combo is in Real-time Strategy games or RTS. This is where the many buttons or keys of the Keyboard come in handy along with the precision of the Mouse. With hotkeys set to select, attack or defend or some other type of action with just a press of the key along with the option of mapping to the keys suited for a player’s own taste makes KB/M combo a greater one than that of a Controller. With the Scroll Wheel also present on the Mouse for faster navigation of menus and items, RTS games are best suited with the KB/M combo although developers have tried bringing the experience to Controllers as well but compared to KB/M it does fall short. KB/M however do under perform with Fighting/Beat ‘Em Up games. With certain moves suited with the input of an analog stick, it becomes easier and faster to achieve the desired results.

With the recent increase of FPS titles on the console platform with the most popular online FPS title, Call of Duty, it is seen that Controllers can handle FPS well. With a little practice and dedication one can be as efficient as a person with a KB/M setup. However many of these FPS titles do tend to incorporate Aim Assists by default but also do present the option to turn it off in order to really push the limits of the player to show his talent using a Controller.

The Popular DualShock Controller. Which Retained Its Design Since The First DualShock 1 Controller For PSone.
The Popular DualShock Controller.
Which Retained Its Design Since The First DualShock 1 Controller For PSone.

Other than that it also boils down to one’s own preference and how much time a person has spent gaming with a specific interface medium. For example, a person who has gamed his whole gaming life on a Controller playing all sorts of genres will definitely prefer Controller over the KB/M combo and will face a bit of a struggle to adapt to the KB/M combo and vice versa, a person who has put down countless hours using KB/M combo will also feel a bit of a struggle adapting to the Controller, its weight and size along with other aspects such as complete control over analog sticks.

With new ways of interacting with the game world also present such as motion controllers and touch screens, at its core, KB/M and Controllers will always stay a default but who’s to say for how long. Till then the rivalry between Keyboard/Mouse VS Controllers will remain.

What’s your preferred choice for playing games? Let us know via the comments below.

  • John Skyle

    The only thing controllers have over KB/M is fighting games. Otherwise, KB/M is superior by far.

  • Mark

    “With a little practice and dedication one can be as efficient as a person with a KB/M setup.”

    Hahahahahahaa Nice joke.

  • EternalDahaka

    “Controllers you may hit a dead zone or you can’t achieve better sensitivity settings when aiming with the analog stick. But ever since Halo, developers of FPS titles on consoles have been optimizing and adapting well to the Controllers so that the gamer who chooses to game on console can have the same smooth experience whether aiming”

    A deadzone is the amount of space you have to move the thumstick before it actually starts registering. It’s not something you can move into or hit.
    And no, developers have not been optimizing their games for controllers well. Current console FPS, whether ports or not, can have worse analog setups than N64 games. The deadzone is an issue, but it is one of many that can either make an fps game’s controls smooth or downright awful.
    Bungie is actually one of the worst examples of a developer optimizing anything with the controller. They’ve only shown that gluing on copious amounts of aim assist, bullet magnetism and eventually turn acceleration covers up bad analog controls.

    Stating the difference in keyboards is like arguing the difference between using a 360 controller or Gamecube one. Keyboards have 95% of the button layout of each other, as do most controllers. Very few developers actually allow full button-mapping on console. Most just give the player only 1-3 options to pick from, if any.

    I’m primarily a controller user, and it’s not so much about what you’re used to(though that does matter), but how well the controls are set up. Ideally, I’d prefer playing most games with the controller, but there can be issues with it, and in those cases a m/kb is far better.

  • BOB

    I don’t think you have ever used a keyboard and mouse before

  • Dolan

    Horrible article. Controllers are better in any situation where you need dynamic movement – something WASD just can’t handle. KB/M is better in any situation where you need precise accuracy and speed, or a plethora of buttons for actions on the fly.

    Also, the reason FPS have improved for controllers is simply due to aim assist and bullet magnetism. While these do make the games a more smooth experience on controllers, they sacrifice a large part of the skill-gap, as a lot of accuracy is auto-corrected by the game for you. Saying that controllers can compete with KB/M in an FPS with no aim assist or magnetism is a joke. If you wanna see for yourself, play Halo and try killing your own teammates. The reason that’s so hard is because there’s no aim assist or magnetism on your own team.

  • fred

    Shit article.

  • smashbrolink

    IMO, controllers[especially motion controllers for shooters] are worlds better, due to being less confusing to get used to, than keyboards.
    With the exception of certain MMO’s, of course…

    • Seb

      they’re really terrible with FPS, its impossible to play with one, but so is driving with a keyboard, TO HELL WITH THAT.