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Using a Keyboard and Mouse in Console Gaming Isn’t Cheating

… and if you play first-person shooters on console, you should seriously consider picking up a keyboard + mouse adapter of your own.

The use of keyboard mouse adapters in console gaming invites heavy discussion on forums. I’ve seen my fair share of posts on reddit about this issue. Without fail, the first person to comment that the use of keyboard + mouse (KBM) adapters in console gaming is equivalent to cheating reaps positive comment karma in proportion with the number of people who view the thread. Comments perceived as arguments in favor of KBM adapters get down-voted to oblivion, in spite of their being both constructive and cogent. Even inflammatory comments like, “OMG dude get good with a controller or go to PC” get more positive traction than legitimate arguments. The issue of proper voting reddiquette aside, I want to get my thoughts out on the matter, with hope that even the most closed-minded may come to see things differently.

I write from the perspective of a gamer reared on first-person shooters. My first console-based FPS was Fur Fighters for the Sega Dreamcast, and my first PC FPS was Doom. While I am no stranger to the arcane mechanics of the modern gamepad, I would take a keyboard and mouse over two analog sticks any day of the week, and there’s good reason why: the mouse is the reigning king for precision. Even a fool knows that.

Those who decry KBM console gamers as cheaters are delusional. What they’re really getting at is this notion that the world of consoles is somehow different from PC: fairer. In their minds, everyone should compete on a level playing field. I’ll prove that the field was never level to begin with, and that only a naive definition of cheating would see KBM adapters fall within it.

Fairness in Console Gaming

Consoles have always been computers. They are designed to run code that has been digitally signed, and typically do so at a lower cost of entry than a contemporary gaming PC. The “PC Master Race” crew knows this is possible because an entire generation of console will have the same performance envelope from its launch to its eventual exit from the marketplace. Console manufacturers are thus able to reap economies of scale in production and gain leverage over suppliers by producing a large volume of standardized equipment.

Once this standardized console has left the store, however, its environment will vary wildly based on the end-user. Consumers have a dazzling array of complementary components to choose from – everything from the display to the sound system can be selected for a specific purpose, and every serious gamer makes these choices with the intention of gaining a competitive advantage, in turn making console gaming no fairer than any other sport.

Defining Cheating in PvP Gaming

Let us define “cheating” in the context of PvP gaming, and then evaluate whether the use of a KBM adapter falls within our proposed definition.

What type of activities or behavior can we universally declare to be cheating?

Memory injection. Lag switching. DDoS. Aimbotting. Wallhacking.

Thus we define cheating in video games as any modification of runtime game data, including network data.

We may be tempted to employ a vague definition such as: “Doing something to give an unfair advantage over another player,” or “any activity that modifies the game experience to give one player an advantage over another,” but these definitions are fundamentally flawed, because they center around a notion of fairness that does not exist in the real world. These definitions are so loose that deliberate practice might even slip into them.

Let’s be realistic about what a KBM adapter is: it is a device whose primary function is to provide the player with an alternative input method. They accomplish this by emulating controller input: the console is incapable of distinguishing between KBM input and controller input.

KBM adapters aren’t aimbots. They don’t give the ability to see through walls, like wallhacks or ESP. Some support functions like rapid-fire and scripting, which falls into a grey area, but the primary function of the KBM adapter remains the same: provide the player with an alternative input method.

As KBM adapters don’t alter runtime game data, they do not fall into the accepted definition of cheating.

The Competitive Gamer

The goal of any competitive player is to overcome the competition using whatever means necessary, short of cheating or breaking the rules of the game. David Sirlin’s Playing to Win (sirlin.net/ptw) does a fantastic job discussing the stratagems employed by the competitive gamer in pursuit of victory. Early in the book, Sirlin defines “scrubs,” comparing them to competitive players:

A scrub is a player who is handicapped by self-imposed rules that the game knows nothing about. A scrub does not play to win.

Both in-game and in the real world, the competitive gamer seeks to gain an advantage over the competition. Within the scope of the game, one player may have greater map awareness than the other. Outside of the game world, you can bet that a THX sound system will give a better game experience than a pair of iPhone earbuds, though most competitive gamers tend towards headphones. There are even sound cards that boost the sound of in-game footsteps.

Would competitive players of fighting games call the use of an arcade stick cheating? A flight stick in an air combat game? A racing wheel in a racing game? Only a scrub would take the handicap and use the general-purpose controller when a dominant option can be employed.

Controller vs. Keyboard and Mouse

Imagine a FPS game that has no aim assistance, one that was built around the keyboard and mouse as the default input method. Then, a forward-thinking player brings a controller to the table. Does the new player gain a competitive advantage by using the controller? Would the keyboard + mouse players switch over to running a controller?

In reality, one is hard-pressed to make the case for the game controller being more competitive than the keyboard and mouse. Situationally, a controller may be better than a keyboard and mouse — for instance, while watching a very narrow opening with a sniper rifle, it takes very little effort for a controller user to pull the trigger without influencing their look direction. Faced with the same situation, the mouse user must exercise great caution to actuate the mouse button without simultaneously moving the mouse.

If you make the argument that keyboard and mouse have greater precision and accuracy, effectively dominating controllers, then why aren’t you making the investment into a keyboard mouse adapter? It’s incongruous to state that:

– I play to win,
– keyboard and mouse are better than controller,
– and I use a controller because keyboard and mouse users are scrubs

If you take the game seriously, why not take the plunge and get a keyboard mouse adapter for yourself? Treat yourself, bruh. If you’re a competitive gamer whose gaming setup could support a keyboard + mouse, you owe it to yourself to try it out. I can guarantee that it will change your gameplay experience.

Otherwise, if you’re determined to stick to your console controller, at least do yourself the favor of getting an accessory like KontrolFreek. Extending your analog sticks will provide you with more precise aim, which you can probably leverage to run a higher in-game sensitivity.

I’d also like to address the point of most keyboard and mouse vs. controller arguments focusing only on mechanics. While important, mechanics alone won’t determine the outcome of a fight: a KBM player with poor game sense will lose to a competent controller player the majority of the time.

In a discussion about mechanics, one cannot ignore the command-side of the interaction.

What console gamers should be worried about is the use of scripting and macros. Modded controllers for consoles have existed for a long time, enabling the user to perform actions at game-breaking speed, or with inhuman consistency. We’re talking frame-perfect actions: something that normally takes countless repetitions of deliberate practice to pull off. In the right situation, you have a literal win button, just waiting to be pressed.

Here’s the thing: if you bought one of these devices and began using it tomorrow, no one could ban you for it. Console-based multiplayer matchmaking can’t check for the presence of such devices. Someone watching your killcam might spot it out, but what are they going to do about it? The only time that you’d reasonably expect to get in trouble for using such a device would be at a sanctioned tournament.

Adapters like the XIM4 don’t do this whatsoever.

The winds of change are blowing. Microsoft and Sony are both opening up their systems bit by bit, and native support for mice and keyboards is on the horizon.

More
My Battlestation
How to Design a Dedicated Gaming Setup
My Destiny XIM4 Setup

Edits
Ported content from its original location, added a new section on scripting and macros

20170509 Trials of Osiris on Twilight Gap in Hindsight

Destiny‘s Trials of Osiris took place on Twilight Gap from May 5th to May 8th, 2017.

This is the fifth time that the Trials of Osiris has taken place on Twilight Gap.

I was a little perplexed by my weekly performance at the close of day one (1.50), especially when reviewing it against my overall record (6113/3154=1.9382). By the end of day one, I’d succeeded in adding 289 kills and 193 deaths to my record (289/193=1.4974).

It didn’t occur to me until I expressed my disappointment over these numbers in stream… One of my viewers pointed out that the meta had changed since the last time (January 20th to January 23rd, 2017) that Twilight Gap was played.

As a former Last Word + sniper main, the natural choice would have been for me to switch to Palindrome + Ice Breaker.

On Sunday, I ran a marathon session with NDS TaLoN. I put in some deliberate practice with my Striker Titan’s movement on Saturday night, knowing that its lightning grenades would do work on this map. I should have spent more time practicing my nade throws on Twilight Gap, as they ended up being the death of me on more occasions than I would have liked. I didn’t know how long I was expected to be on, but I do know that opportunities like this don’t present themselves every day. We ran lighthouse virgin carries from his stream for almost eight hours. By the end of it, I was worn out. I lay down and fell asleep for a few hours.

I’ve run carries with NDS TaLoN once before, on Asylum. Like last time, he stayed mostly quiet across party chat. As one of the Destiny community’s most-viewed Twitch streamers, he spends a significant portion of his time on-stream interacting with chat, and team comms suffer as a consequence. Some of the best moments were found when the whole team moved to play up close and personal with the opposing team: the full court press, if you will.

In spite of the fact that I was running carries with another strong player, my record remained virtually unchanged from the close of day one. New weekly totals: 581 kills to 391 deaths for a 1.486 K/D.

I wrapped up Trials of Osiris on Twilight gap with a Win/Loss record of 88/31, giving me a 73.95% win percentage, and 712 kills to 459 deaths for a 1.55 K/D.

I had the opportunity to play with the following individuals:

  • Phantaci
  • Flame oT
  • uck bungie
  • THE W0RMW00D
  • NDS TaLoN
  • a box 0f juice
  • The Devil Prada
  • TombstoneTV
  • shenjen

My thanks go out to you all for being a part of my weekend 🙂

20170502 Trials of Osiris on The Anomaly in Hindsight

Destiny‘s Trials of Osiris took place on Earth from April 28th to May 1st, 2017.

This is the fourth time that the Trials of Osiris has taken place on The Anomaly. I grew quite fond of this map when it was featured during “spooky Trials of Osiris.”

I was pleased to run all three of my characters to the Lighthouse. Additionally, Toxiic xBear and I made a successful lighthouse virgin run for LemonFawn303313.

I had the opportunity to play with the following individuals:

  • Phantaci
  • XGamingSociety
  • the FracTal
  • Skifurd
  • YUN6 Y4WH33
  • Toxiic xBear
  • LemonFawn303313
  • qaveman
  • dylrodidyadirty
  • a box 0f juice
  • Paylog
  • l Crxzy l
  • Foogba
  • RatatouilIe
  • MaDeKiLLeR56
  • lilleal408


Thank you all for being a part of my weekend! Though some runs were cleaner than others, it was a pleasure, and I look forward to the next time.

My thanks go out additionally to RavynHD, who blessed me with a host one evening. RavynHD can be found streaming on Beam at https://beam.pro/RavynHD 🙂

Account Recoveries Should Be Put to Rest

Somebody once asked if I would perform an account recovery, and I politely declined, responding that I ought to draft an opinion on the matter…

Background

The first time that I heard of an account “recov,” I had no idea what it meant. I guessed that people were gaining unauthorized access to Xbox Live accounts, and using those accounts to play PvP to get around skill-based matchmaking.

In practice, account recovery is a term used to describe the practice of allowing another (usually stronger) player to assume control of your account for an activity.

My Opinion

Bungie, if not Microsoft and Sony, should put a stop to this practice, not just for the sake of Destiny, but for all games. It is well within their ability to track account logins and to swing the banhammer.

Account Recoveries Ruin the PvP Spirit

The path to git gud is long and littered with many a fallen scrub. If you take the game seriously, you are well aware that there is a high skill ceiling.

As a Trials of Osiris player, there are few things more annoying than running into a stacked team running account recoveries. It’s glaringly obvious when pulling a fireteam’s stats.

Closing Remarks

You can find countless individuals offering free and paid account recoveries in an attempt to boost their profile, but you will never catch me playing on anyone else’s account: life is short, and I would be fortunate if I can build my own handle to achieve some name recognition.