What are Gaming Keyboards?

Michael Giuffre

The world of computer games is constantly growing, birthing increasingly involved and complex games every day. This being the case, the avid gamer is posed with a problem. A more complex game demands a more complex controller. For example, the same controller or keyboard used to play old, popular games like Pac-Man or Tetris is no longer sufficient for today's games.

Gaming keyboards have re-programmable keys so users can create the best functionality for their needs.
Gaming keyboards have re-programmable keys so users can create the best functionality for their needs.

The gaming industry's solution to this problem is the gaming keyboard. These keyboards are overhauled, customized versions of the factory standard keyboards that can be found at businesses or in many households. Gaming keyboard manufacturers take the design of a regular keyboard and then determine what changes could be made to make controlling video games easier and more convenient.

Some games are designed to be played with a controller instead of a keyboard.
Some games are designed to be played with a controller instead of a keyboard.

Many gaming keyboards are equipped with reprogrammable keys that serve whatever function you assign to them. This allows the user to create a one-of-a-kind setup that is specifically tailored to his liking. Additionally, gaming keyboards often offer a built-in joystick. This stick allows the user to easily and seamlessly control several axis of movement at once if used in conjunction with the mouse.

In today's world where comfort is often a deciding factor between purchasing one item over another, many gaming keyboards also make the effort to be more ergonomic for their users. Curving the keyboard to fit a more natural arm position for the user, or providing better wrist support are common ergonomic improvements that can be found in gaming keyboards.

Further enhancing ergonomics is the specific placement of certain keys on the board. Instead of placing important keys in awkward or hard to reach places, the manufacturers of gaming keyboards aim to maximize ease of use. Instead of straining your pinky finger to reach the key assigned to crouching, for example, a gaming keyboard may allow you to reprogram the crouch function to one of the more comfortably located keys.

Another feature of many gaming keyboards is a custom sticker overlay. The overlay is placed onto some keyboards and customizes the labeling of the keys and may include a stylish graphic of some sort. However, some gamers prefer not to clutter their keyboard with these graphics and can easily remember which buttons serve which functions. Whether you desire an overlay or not, an overlay is usually not the decision-making factor that influences a gamer to buy one keyboard over another. Ergonomics, key placement and programmabiliy are the primary considerations when buying a gaming keyboard.

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Discussion Comments


What are the differences between a gaming keyboard and regular one?


Can anyone tell me what the top gaming keyboards are? I am interested in buying one but I want to get one that won't break and that will satisfy all of my needs. My two biggest criteria are comfort and programability. I would really appreciate any suggestions


It is not as simple as just getting a new piece of hardware. Some gamers see gaming keyboards as a form of cheating. They believe that you should only use the hardware and software that has been provided for you and not try to use peripherals to try and gain an advantage in the game.

I know a few people who are fanatical about this. On some of the other boards that I post on there are people who will rant endlessly and viciously about how certain players are cheaters and their achievements are phony.

I'm not sure where I come down on this. I can see it from both sides. But I guess I have to admit that I am guilty of this myself. I love to play driving games and I usually use a special steering wheel rather than the controller. In the minds of some this is blasphemy. I think it makes it more fun.


I got my first gaming keyboard after I started getting into the game Starcraft. I initially just used the mouse and a few keyboard shortcuts. But as I got more and more into the game and started playing a higher caliber of player I realized that I needed to get quicker. That is when I saw a video of some Korean gamers who used customized gaming keyboards. Watching them manipulate the keys was like watching a master piano player, it was incredible how fast their fingers moved.

After that I went down to my local game store and talked with the guy behind the counter for probably 30 minutes about gaming keyboards. He recommended a basic model that they had in the store for starters (These can get as complicated and expensive as you want them to be) and I started using it that night.

It took a while to get the hang of, but once I did my skill in the game shot through the roof. I was playing on a level that I didn't think was possible. Now I use it for all the games I play and I have transitioned from a skilled gamer to an elite gamer. And it is all because of this new piece of hardware.

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