A backlit gaming keyboard is a keyboard which has been customized for use with computer games. In addition to being used for gaming, of course, this type of keyboard can be used for regular computer operations as well, and the design tends to be be popular with programmers in addition to gamers. Typically, backlit gaming keyboards are more expensive than traditional keyboards, but they also tend to be of very high quality, since they are designed to withstand heavy use by gamers.
The key feature of a backlit gaming keyboard is the backlighting, which illuminates the keys in the dark. Usually, the backlighting surrounds the keys, illuminating the layout of the keyboard to make it easier to find individual keys. The backlighting also often highlights the symbol on each key. Red is a common color choice for backlighting, since it is a color which is friendly to the eyes in the dark. Blue, purple, and programmable colors are also available on some models.
In addition to the lighting, a backlit gaming keyboard is also usually equipped with extra keys which perform special in-game functions. Instead of having to toil through menus and keystroke commands, gamers can adjust volume, move, and perform a variety of other tasks at the touch of a button. These buttons are also fully programmable, allowing gamers to specify unique functions, and some can be linked with keyboard macros, allowing the stroke of a key to execute a complex command.
There are numerous advantages to using a backlit gaming keyboard. Gamers tend to be more accurate with a specialized gaming keyboard, especially one which provides backlighting for visibility in dark rooms. In addition, they tend to be faster, thanks to the programmable and specialized keys. Some people feel that using macros and specialized keyboard commands is not entirely fair, but many gamers argue that these commands give them the split-second edge which can be critical in gaming.
Backlit gaming keyboards also have another critical advantage: they are extremely solid. Many gamers run through keyboards very quickly, because they use their keyboards a lot and they tend to be hard on them. Gaming keyboards are designed to endure a high level of keystrokes, and a lot of abuse. Some gamers feel that the higher price is worth the investment, when one considers the fact that a backlit gaming keyboard may last for years, rather than months, while providing an edge to the user.