By Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)
Gaming is ultimately a hobby. Maybe not for everyone but for the majority of those out there, that’s all it is; a hobby, a form of escapism, a way to kick back and relax. There are the lucky few that manage to create a career out of gaming but the rest of us just enjoy the time that we can make available for our favourite leisure activity.
For me, gaming has been and remained an interest for the best part of my life but it’s only in recent years that I’ve bought into the culture that surrounds it. Whereas before I’d just enjoy games casually every now and then, I’ve now reached the point where I don’t want to just play games, I want to fully embrace the culture.
This covers everything from the people, the exhibitions, the merch, the content (articles, videos etc.) and my focus for this blog – the accessories and peripherals.
I’ll start the next bit by saying: you don’t NEED expensive peripherals and accessories to enjoy gaming and they won’t even always help you that much in the game. Many expensive accessories are about style, comfort and RGB.
I do like to think that the right controller or keyboard or headset can improve how you play but this is likely still down to an individual level and more than anything, I am just clutching at straws because I’m an average gamer who needs all the help he can get!
Accessories is a massive topic and we’re bound to write more about them from individual categories to thoughts about a specific brand or bit of gear. For the rest of this blog, I’m just going to highlight some of the accessories and peripherals that I particularly love and enjoy as part of the wider gaming culture, starting with RGB!
Some people might be sick of RGB and lighting up components in general, but I love it! I haven’t quite gone to the lengths of getting RAM with RGB LEDs of RGB fans (speak to Sam about that one!) but I do have an RGB LED strip behind my monitor that slowly changes colour lighting up the wall as I game. I also have an RGB mouse and keyboard (although nothing fancy) and I also have a white LED strip inside my PC case lighting up the components. This brings me onto another part of the accessory culture that I think is great.
PC cases. Afterall, who needs a plain grey tower? I really like being able to see the components in the PC! It might just come across as a brag but I think it’s really cool and it’s a big part of the PC culture, having a nice case with funky features. Whenever we go to EGX (gaming convention), there are always people admiring the PC cases and often the beautiful looking liquid cooling set-ups inside.
This might surprise some but I’m going to skip over keyboard and mouse right now – they are no doubt a huge part of PC gaming and I think they’re super cool in terms of what you can get but ultimately, I am more of a console gamer so I’m going to stick to a couple of things now that can apply to both console and PC gamers starting with pro controllers.
There are more and more options on the market for pro controllers and while many might just think it’s for the paddles on the back or the ability to change the profile of the controller, what I really love about it is the weight of the controllers and the grip. I have an Xbox Elite controller and it just feels nicer than the standard controller. That said, I still love my two Halo 5 Xbox One controllers.
I think what I love about pro controllers, and the same goes for a decent keyboard and mouse, is that it almost gives me a mindset switch. It makes me feel like I can be better at the game, even though I’m not. Oddly enough, the same logic goes for monitors. While most monitors, or TVs are fine for gaming, sitting up at the monitor makes me feel somewhat pro.
I’m currently only using an old FHD BenQ panel with 50-60hz refresh and a 2ms grey-to-grey but it’s served me well over the last 6 years and I’m finally looking to upgrade to a new panel and I can’t wait! The clarity of playing on a decent monitor with a good refresh rate just makes the whole game feel and look better.
Although there are so many different things I could talk about that make up a big part of the gaming culture when it comes to accessories, I’m going to finish with the biggest game changer for me: headsets.
Putting my headset on (Halo 5 Edition Astro A40s) is the moment that I switch off from the world and go full gamer! There’s something about it that makes me think I look awesome with my headset on and my mic down like the pros. Reality is, I just look like a guy with a headset on but it makes me feel like I’m embracing the true gaming culture!