As an industry that develops together with technology, it’s no wonder the gaming industry is close to a variety of complementary accessories, which are now better known as gaming gear. The NPD Group, in its report on the number of US gamers spending Q1 2020, explained that sales of game accessories reached 390 million US dollars. This figure is a decrease, but is still considered the third highest number of sales of all time.
Many may ask. What makes gaming gear so interesting and important? In fact, will you be better if you have gaming gear? Will your MMR increase from Herald to Ancient in one week in Dota 2 just for buying gaming gear? So far the answer is “no” yes. But if you have friends who can rank up just because you have new gaming gear, maybe you can introduce them to me so I can interview… Hehe.
I briefly expressed my opinion about this when writing tips for aiming at FPS PC. In this article, I deliberately put the tips on choosing the right gear at the end. Because it is like football, if your ability to play football is still inter-village class, aka tarkam, Nike Mercurial shoes will not necessarily make you as good as Lionel Messi. But if you can dribble the ball like Lionel Messi, you definitely need the best equipment, so that you can move more freely and avoid injury.
If so, are there any pointless mice, 144Hz monitors, mechanical keyboards, and RGB mouse pads? The answer is uncertain. The next question might be why is gaming gear needed and what kind of gaming gear has an influence on your gaming abilities?
A Quest to Be the Best
In esports, only the best of the best can triumphantly sit on the throne of world champions. The OG team from the Dota 2 scene, need to compete for months, beat all opponents, and compete with at least 85 people from 17 other teams in the main event of The International 2019 to become world champions. No wonder, being the best is always the main quest for an esports team.
To be the best, there are many factors that need to be considered. Individual skills are mandatory devices for a player. After individual skills, strategies and game plans will make a team stronger. After strategy, cooperation and game chemistry become the glue that makes an esports team’s ability to play even more solid.
After these three aspects, the quest to be the best is actually still not over. There are still other aspects that can be improved, so that a team can be even better. There is a team that is trying to improve in terms of psychology, an example of which can be seen from the role of sports psychologist Mia Stellberg’s performance behind Astralis’ victories in CS: GO and OG in Dota 2.
But the competition will continue to get tougher. If after the three aspects above have been fulfilled, then what is next? Complementary accessories such as gaming gear are one of the answers. This may be the reason why the monitor’s Refresh-Rate rate has continued to increase over the past few years, the mouse is getting lighter until it is made with perforated designs, each brand continues to develop the most responsive mechanical keyboard switches, and makes headsets with the best Surround Sound capabilities. .
Everyone is on their way to being the best, and the response and speed is one that is constantly trying to be pursued. But is it true that response is everything? Then is it true that gaming gear has an impact on performance?
If we look at traditional sports like football, which involve more physical movement, the answer may be yes. An academic article entitled “Current Soccer Footwear, Its Role in Injuries and Potential for Improvement” explains the ins and outs of this.
If I explain in detail what is discussed in the scientific article, this discussion will probably become very long and meticulous; what if I explain to the calculations of the laws of physics from designing a soccer shoe. But certainly, in the process of designing a shoe alone, there are many aspects that need to be considered.
Starting from the amount of momentum the foot hits the ball must be calculated, to determine the thickness or thinness of the material used. How hard you stomp the ground when you run, to determine the construction of the shoe sole. How big is the ankle load when running against the enemy, to determine whether a shoe should be designed “High” or “Low”. Everything is done by thinking about how to make a shoe comfortable and help the footballer give the most efficient performance.
Then what about esports? In-depth research on performance gear so far has only been carried out by “The Lab” of Complexity Gaming and We Are Nations, an esports merchandising company from the United States. The two companies were inspired by Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike, who was so obsessed with thinking about the best shoe design that could make a runner run even faster.
In an interview with Esports Insider, Cam Kelly CMO Complexity Gaming said. “Apart from health, nutrition and fitness, apparel and equipment are an important part of creating even better performance whether it’s on the millisecond or millimeter scale. If someone is so hot that he can’t flex his body parts in the direction he usually does, that person’s playing performance will suffer. ” He said
In the case of casual players, the difference in milliseconds or millimeters may not be significant. But in terms of esports and competition, the fraction of a second in response is what determines life or death. Do not believe? As an intermezzo, you can watch the best of League of Legends pro player, Lee-Sang Hyeok (Faker), who shows how much every millisecond and millimeter of movement means in the world of esports; and the reason why he was nicknamed the Unkillable Demon King.
Furthermore, The Lab also explained how their process was to research an accessory that could make the performance of an esports athlete more efficient. Initially speed, reaction, muscle memory, and limitations or inhibition were tested in the Cognitive Lab.
After that, the accessory prototypes will enter a facility called the Herman Miller Innovation Lab to provide feedback on the prototypes in a private testing session. Finally, the product enters the Advanced Training Room. There, players will go through a stress test, playing in an environment that resembles a LAN match, including temperature, sound, lighting, and equipment.
From here, we can see how The Lab can be said to be one of the pioneers who are very serious about improving a player’s performance in esports. In fact, they see that gaming gear is not only about the mouse and keyboard, but also clothing accessories and so on. Patrick Mahoney, CEO of We Are Nation then added more about the impact of gaming-specific accessories on performance.
“To take esports performance to the next level, we can learn from how sports athletes are better thanks to technology. For example, over the last 20 years we have seen a change in clothing from wool and cotton to synthetic fabrics. This change of material has been shown to make running athletes run faster, and to help maintain a mountain climber’s body temperature. Esports is still in its very early stages, so who knows in the future we will be the pioneers of this. But we understand the importance of research in this area, and we are very excited to be a part of this. ” He said.
Jason Lake Founder Complexity even sparked an idea he calls Esports 3.0. In his view, the idea of Esports 3.0 will be the future. According to Lake, the meaning of this philosophy is to manage players as a whole, including meeting the needs of players in terms of nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, work-life balance, and overall player welfare.
Esports 3.0 is not only about player welfare, but also provides all the best accessories so that a player can become a champion. Regarding gaming gear, Cam Kelly even gave even crazier ideas like connecting audio with haptic (a technology that simulates touch) so that according to him, this technology could potentially make players respond to enemy movements more quickly. “It’s probably not much. Just imagine if we could make gaming gear like contact lenses or Google Glass contain additional information that might be an unfair advantage. ” Kelly explained the fantasy gaming gear concept he had in his head.
What does gaming gear look for to make your game better?
Being the best of the best is arguably the reason why gaming gear still has its own market in the gaming ecosystem. The esports team can use it to make player performance more efficient. Meanwhile, middle-class players can use it to be even better, or maybe just so they can feel what it feels like to be a pro player. Then the next question, what to look for?
About finding the right gear, there is an interesting discussion conducted by Keith Stuard in his article in The Guardian. He discussed these topics one by one, from the monitor, mouse, keyboard, to the controller or joystick.
In the discussion of the monitor, Keith asked the opinion of Nicolas Reetz (dev1ce) the Astralis CS: GO professional player. He thinks 240Hz is a must. “Also, a monitor must have the lowest possible response time, as well as a color control feature. I tend to play with high color saturation, which is the reason why my monitor should have that customization feature. Screen size is also important. Because most tournaments use a 24-inch monitor, so I chose that size. ” Said Nicolas Reetz.
Turning to talking about the mouse, Keith this time did not quote the opinion of professional players, but the opinion of Alex Walker, Kotaku Australia Editor is quite interesting. “The basic thing in looking for a mouse is that you have to first look at how big your hand is, and how you are in the habit of holding the mouse. Build quality is important, but if the mouse is uncomfortable in your hand, then you might regret using it. ” Said Alex.
In another article by Vice, Rasmus Madsen as SteelSeries Industrial Lead Designer explains more. “We design something for very extreme conditions. We don’t design a product for just browsing the internet. This (gaming mouse) isn’t something you’ll be using for just 45 minutes. ” he said. “Convenience has always been something users are looking for. Obviously they are looking for a product that won’t make their hands cramp after playing the game for 6 to 8 hours. ” Rasmus explained.
Interestingly, despite having such a design philosophy, SteelSeries is not the mouse that professional players are looking for. Wccftech conducted research on the gaming gear market by taking data from a site that collects gear configuration data for professional players from various games, prosettings.net, in February 2020. As a result, SteelSeries only took 4.23% of the total gaming mouse used by various pro players. The largest proportion was held by Logitech, with 42.80%, and the second was held by Zowie with a proportion of 28.50%.
“So far, most of the mechanical keyboards use a ‘switch’ from a company called Cherry MX. They use color coding to distinguish the response that keyboard keys produce when pressed. ” Make it clear Mike. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, there are 3 types of mechanical keyboard switches that are commonly on the market: red, brown, blue. For gaming, in my personal opinion the red Switch is the most suitable. This is because the red switch has the fastest response compared to the other two types of switches. So, actually you don’t always have to buy a keyboard with “gaming” frills. As long as the keyboard is mechanical, and uses a Red Switch, then the keyboard is perfect for playing competitive games.
Then what about the controller or joystick. The earliest answer may depend on what game you are playing. Hybrid briefly discussed this matter from a fighting game perspective. In fighting games, the often debated choice is between Gamepad vs Arcade Stick. But between these two types of controllers, one could say that one is no more than the other in terms of game performance. Gamepad and Arcade Stick are both precise. The two camps were created only because the media for playing fighting games experienced a shift, from what was originally popular through Arcade, to finally becoming famous through home consoles.
Arcade players like Daigo Umehara will certainly choose Arcade Stick, because he has been playing Street Fighter from the Arcade era, and this type of controller is the most comfortable for him. Meanwhile, new generation players like Victor Woodley (Punk) will certainly choose a gamepad, because they are new to fighting games in the console era. What aspects should you pay attention to in a Gamepad or Arcade Stick? You are better off reading our article which discusses this in a more comprehensive manner.
Then what about the headset? From my personal opinion, maybe you could say the quality of the sound output from the headphones and sound input from the mic, as well as the convenience of build-quality, are some aspects that need attention. You don’t even always have to buy a “gaming” headset. Because when it comes to sound output quality, specialist audio brands such as Sennheiser or Audio Technica are certainly more trusted when compared to gaming brands.
In the past few years, this audio brand has rarely released a headset product. However, now these specialist audio brands are also plunging into the realm of gaming, such as Sennheiser, which has the Sennheiser Gaming brand in collaboration with EPOS, or Audio Technica which has PG and PDG series.
What aspects should you look for in a headset? There are actually many. There is a Closed-Back or Open-Back type, which determines whether your headset is soundproof or not. There’s an On-ear or Over-ear type, which determines where the foam earpads sit on your ear. Additional features apart from that may be considered a gimmick, which is not essential, and tends to be for marketing language only.
So can gaming gear really make you any better? The most valid answer can only be obtained after conducting research with a scientific approach like what was done by Compelxity Gaming’s The Lab. But in my opinion, the right, comfortable, and sophisticated gear is important to use, especially if you are a heavyweight competitive gamer, who will play games for hours a day, whether you are an esports athlete or a streamer. If you are comfortable using it, you can practice longer. Meanwhile, the hours you practice flying will be directly proportional to your playing ability as well.
Should your equipment always have gaming frills? Of course not, because gaming peripherals brands don’t always know and can make the right and comfortable equipment to use. If you read this article to the end, I say “thank you”. Hopefully my discussion article can be a kind of short note for those of you who are confused about choosing gaming gear.