By James Dominic Flores
Imagine your dream computer setup, what does it look like? If you are a gamer, there’s a high chance that it includes of expensive peripheral gear, a strong CPU core, and a multitude of customizable RGB lights.
Nowadays, PC builders and parts creators market their products for aesthetic appeal as much as utility, but does expensive gaming gear with all its features improve gameplay or are they just all there for show?
When looking at expensive gaming gear, gamers choose between aesthetic appeal and practicality. For peripherals such as your mouse, keyboard, monitor, headset, and even your mousepad, gaming versions may provide extra accessibility features such as additional buttons or settings that can allow a person to customize their gaming experience for their benefit.
This may seem trivial to the average person, but to a gamer, the accessibility features such as complete control of their cursor speed, or assigning a keyboard shortcut such as Ctrl+C to a button on their mouse which allows them to press it faster, or even the monitor response time (how fast a monitor can change colors which signal movement in game), these features not present in ordinary peripherals may mean the difference between a won and lost game.
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On the other end of the spectrum, RGB lighting for various parts of your computer, as well as gaming peripherals provide little to impact one’s gaming experience on the surface. However, that does not mean that it is useless.
Psychologically speaking, people gravitate to anything that fits their aesthetic preferences. Being able to satisfy one’s aesthetic needs, such as matching your PC color with your bedroom’s color scheme can help maintain and improve one’s mental state that can boost one’s mood and productivity.
Some games attempt to integrate RGB lighting and other aesthetic features to create an immersive gaming experience giving the player the feel that they are in the game as opposed to just playing the game.
Do aesthetics make a player better?
Despite the practical and aesthetic features of expensive gaming gear, they do not immediately result in an improvement of skill.
One can imagine that you can wear the finest basketball shoes and gear and yet you still will not be able to play better than if an athlete like Lebron James even if he came out wearing pajamas and slippers.
But this is not just a theory; During Dota 2’s The International 2016 (TI6), TNC, a then up-and-coming Dota team, upset and eliminated tournament favorites OG using an A4 tech mouse, which is arguably the most common mouse used in your average Filipino computer shop.
TNC finished tied for seventh place in that tournament with the team taking home $519,262 in cash prizes on the back of roughly a P150 mouse.
At the end of the day, expensive gaming gear may help enhance your experience of the game by creating your personalized optimal conditions to perform your best but gaming gear alone will not dictate your skill level or rate of improvement within a game because when it comes to skill, its not about the gear, but more on the person itself.
About the author: James Dominic Flores is Program Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences at San Sebastian College, specializing in psychology. He is also a competitive gamer specializing in fighting games.