For years, I only played PC games with a mouse and keyboard. For years after that, I played almost entirely with a controller. Now I’m back with the mouse and keyboard, and it’s been an illuminating homecoming. My relationship with the ol’ point-n-click-n-clack, arguably the best way to control PC games, has been complicated. I wasn’t allowed to own any set-top consoles as a kid, so my main gaming outlet was a gaming PC that I built. As a result, I didn’t grow up with Final Fantasy and GoldenEye. I grew up with Unreal and Half-Life. I didn’t play those games with a joystick or a game controller, because, as far as I knew, that wasn’t possible. I played with a mouse and keyboard.

In the early 2000s, I sold my gaming PC and stopped playing games for a few years. I returned in 2007 and found that a lot had changed. I got an Xbox 360 just in time for Gears of War, Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect. Console controls had gotten much better in the seven years since I first played Halo with an original Xbox controller. I began to voraciously burn through the Xbox 360 library, and for a few years, that’s how I played everything.

Lately that’s changed. A year or so ago I moved my gaming PC away from the TV and upstairs to my desk. I got a monitor that’s better than that TV. So, I decided to start using a mouse and keyboard again. I’m not really to the point where I obsess over DPI or key resistance or anything like that. I’ve found a pretty standard setup, and I stick with it. It’s still been interesting returning to the mouse and keyboard fold after so many years away. Here’s what I’ve learned.

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