The designs for gaming peripherals have always been..odious. For a long time, probably from the beginning, the designs for gaming controllers, keyboards, mice, headphones, or any other peripherals that gamers use focus on being edgy. Not Comme des Garçons edgy, but a sort of the-sharp-end-of-a-knife kind of edgy. It’s startling because you would think, as a normal person would, about the person who imagined such a theme and wonder what went wrong.
It’s brutalist, if anything, in showing the components of the peripheral. But it’s bad brutalism, it’s pretentious brutalism. Manufacturers are simply following a trend that nobody knew where it came from, and all of these peripherals are just a continuation. It doesn’t make sense, and it creates a false premium that a lot of people are buying into. It truly is without purpose.
I’m really quite convinced that nobody, apart from the sizeable adolescent gaming market, likes “gaming” design. When was it ever necessary to put bright green accents or red components in anything?
The Taming of the Beast
Maybe the novelty is starting to wear off, because manufacturers of gaming peripherals are wising up about the gaming aesthetic. Razer, Steelseries, Corsair, and other big PC peripheral companies do earn a lot of money off of their keyboard business, but they are doing unnecessary research and development in a field where their discoveries has never been a source of any improvement among gamers.
Steelseries is one of the big names in PC peripherals to finally release an understated and somewhat-pretty headset. You could mistake the Arctic Pro Wireless as one of the very limited noise-canceling headphones in the world. The design is plain, although it is still unmistakably a gamer headset with its retractable mic, but this is something a gamer can use in the real world. There are no annoying RGB lights, the cushion is ample, and it’s comfortable. How’s that for a winning combination? Still, there are features that may have been unnecessary to most people but apparently, a must for gamers. Ski goggle fabric for the headband. The inclusion of DTS feature. Were these in such a big demand?
Razer, probably the first name in computer peripherals, released the Blackwidow Lite (no) this year. It’s a work/gaming keyboard adorned in sort-of tame silver paint with only one color of backlight available. It’s so un-Razer like to make a product that doesn’t punch you in the face with its “gaming-ness,” until you look under the screen controls and see the brand name. Nonetheless, this is a step forward for Razer and in raising the bar for gaming aesthetics. It’s still a mechanical keyboard, a hit among gamers but takes a lot of getting used to with people who regularly use chiclet keyboard.
Corsair, one of the most famous PC component manufacturers, probably the only one who makes peripherals with both a world and gamer-friendly design. Not their headphones of course, but their keyboards are all understated but can still grab a stranger’s attention. It’s a gamer’s keyboard sure, but this is one you won’t mind using in the office.
Taking a Cue from Music Peripherals
I’m more of an audiophile than a gaming peripheral enthusiast. How can I, really, for most of the peripherals are annoyingly blunt. I can’t claim to have the perfect ear that can hear the difference between a $20 and $30 earphones, but I do own quite a lot of in-ear drivers that most people have never used or hear about. I can definitely tell you that the design aspect of music peripherals have a purpose; well, most of them. More than that, it’s varied in a beautiful way. The Shure SE215, a durable earphones (bet you’ve never heard of that?), is a good example. It contours into your inner ear, is transparent (a rare feature), and produces high-quality sound. So there’s form, function, and an extra aesthetic treat. You don’t see that every day.
There are countless examples of this marriage of price, performance, and prettiness. Another good example is the Advanced M4. It looks more like your regular pair of earphones, but the cable is more durable than most earphones at its price. It’s actually one of the best cabling solutions among earphones today as it’s really durable. It’s been tagged as one of the best value performers in the audiophile world, and the best thing about it is its understated quality. You won’t pick it in a sea of earphone choices, but once you hear and see it, it’s an easy buy.
A Long Way to Go
All these shouldn’t tell signify a sea of change in gaming peripherals because as it is, the entire industry is still hell-bent in creating the most ghastly peripherals. The same companies I mentioned above are still the biggest producers of the distasteful designs in gaming, with the exception of Steelseries.
The most disappointing is Logitech, however, considering that they are the champion of peripheral ergonomics the world over. Their G (as in gaming) line is disappointingly boorish. From keyboard to mouse to headphone, there’s no signature Logitech design anywhere. They don’t try to innovate it like they do in regular peripherals, where they are almost untouchable in design and function. Why couldn’t they make a Craft keyboard for gamers? It would have turned the entire world of gaming peripherals over.
Razer is still guilty of subscribing to this gaming aesthetic. The worst example is their Nari Ultimate, their take of a wireless gaming headphones. It’s unapologetically big, in a way that won’t ever permit you to take it out of your room. It also has RGB lighting, a feature among all gaming peripherals that really should just die.
ASUS’ Republic of Gamers’ line is plainly putting fuel to the fire. Corsair’s headphones could use an overhaul, from bottom to top to bottom again. Kingston too, because of their increasingly loud designs. MSI should just stop altogether, and spend that money making what they make best.
Hopefully, the redesigning of gaming peripherals would lead to more sound aesthetics for gamers. These computer parts have some really useful features wrapped in appalling aesthetics. Everyone can do with better tactile response in their keyboards and more accuracy in their mice. If only they could stop it with the garish designs, the world of computer peripherals would be a lot more welcoming.