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Finding the Right Keyboard for PC Gaming

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 6/1/2009

Ever wondered how the QWERTY keyboard scheme came about? When the first one was made? But more importantly, what a keyboard means to you as a gamer? Find out inside.

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    QWERTY? Why not NMERG?

    The Keyboard - a staple of writing tools since about 1864. If you think our current keyboards come from the start of the computer industry, you'd be overlooking a very important primitive writing device: the beloved typewriter - a favorite of film noir writers and self-proclaimed narrators. So, before we get started talking about which keyboards are best for gamers, let's talk a little about the history of the keyboard and where the key arrangement came from.

    Admit it - the first time you laid eyes on a computer keyboard something wasn't quite right. Reading from left to right on the 2nd row of the keyboard read Q-W-E-R-T-Y. Logic would dictate that perhaps the best way to arrange this would be in alphabetical order, starting from A to Z, and at least it would be easy for people to learn to use. The only thing is, the key arrangement has been around since the dawn of the typewriting age, back then, technology wasn't exactly what one would call "good". Typists could type at incredible speeds on older keyboards, making it a problem for the mechanical type writers back then to keep up. What would happen was that the typists would break or jam the typewriter's typing bars by moving too quickly. In order to avoid this problem, a special QWERTY setup was eventually established that would make the typers slow down in order to work the typewriter without breaking it.

    And that's how the current key arrangement came about, the rest is history. It's almost ironic in a horrible way that the keyboard we use today was developed to slow us down in an age where computing speed is very important... The keys in a keyboard now work on a spring loaded system in almost all cases, that's how they bounce back right into position after each keystroke - and they have since electric typewriters, long before computers.

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    WASD Meant for QWERTY

    So, what does the keyboard mean to the gamer? It's only the most crucial part of your gaming set up. The way I look at it, and this should make it simple for you console gamers to understand, the keyboard plays the role of the face buttons in the keyboard-mouse setup. The keyboard serves to move your character in space while the mouse typically controls the camera. In other setups, the keyboard functions as a command center for all your units and for movements on a map.

    The best keyboards for the PC gamer have to be those that allow for custom-setups. Beyond that, the essence of buying a keyboard comes down to only two things: Ergonomics and Response Times.

    Bluetooth or Radio-enabled keyboards will have a very slight delay in response, and could even turn off as they run on battery - meaning that most gamers who have the room will avoid them, working with wired keyboards instead.

    Ergonomics play a huge role as well. Keep in mind that you'll be resting your hands on the bottom part of the keyboard for most of the day, and even while you play, your left hand will always be on the board. This means that for some people, ergonomically designed cushions at the bottom part of the board, or a separate cushion below the keyboard, work best.

    Your keyboard, much like your mouse, is an extremely personal choice, and if at all possible, you should try to test one out at a local electronics store (even if you don't end up buying it there). By looking and feeling how the board feels on your fingers and wrists, you'll be able to efficiently pick which one will work best for you. And that's all there is to it - follow my advice and you should be on your way to gaming nirvana in no time - with no Carpal Tunnel Syndrome either.