Gaming RGB accessories are embarrassing, but that's okay

Gaming RGB accessories are embarrassing, but that's okay

Put together a shopping list of PC components and accessories for a gamer, and you can bet your bottom dollar some glowy-glowy lights will end up on the list. For some reason, "gamer" has become synonymous with twinkly lights on keyboards, mice, and even PC towers, and I’m not quite sure why that is.

It’s pretty much impossible to get hold of some quality PC gear that doesn’t have RGB lights on it, and it’s a puzzling thing to still be happening in 2023. As I type this, my mechanical keyboard is pulsing lights through the visible spectrum, pretty much whether I want it to or not. Because, let’s face it, RGB lighting is embarrassing, and manufacturers need to recognize that before slapping it on yet another keyboard. But even with that in mind, I’m not sure I want them to go away.

It’s childish

The worst sin of RGB lighting on your gaming gear is what it says about you. While marketing images are rammed full of young attractive men, headset on, smouldering at their displays, in the dark (for some reason). But the reality is different. I’m more akin to a hunched feral goblin whilst gaming, sat in full unflattering light, and probably eating something unhealthy.

RGB accessories suffer a similar transformation when placed into a real environment. Surrounded by the general detritus of a gaming hobby (cables, dongles, adapters, cups, empty packets of food) they’re less classy and sleek, and more gauche. They flash bright colors in ways that attract your attention and keep it. You know what else does that? Baby toys.

It’s so unnecessary

RGB lighting on accessories don’t do anything. No matter what PR firm photoshoots claim, no-one plays games only by the light of their keyboard and monitor. That way strained eyes lay, and I learned that lesson back when I had to attach a separate light to my Gameboy to game in bed long after I should have been asleep.

So if the lights aren’t used as, er, lighting, what are they really good for? Well, it’s basically just looks, which is a somewhat puzzling explanation, as I don’t really tend to look at my keyboard while I’m playing games. At no point during any game, whether it’s Total War: Warhammer 3 or Overwatch 2, do I take a moment to look down and admire by keyboard. It’s simply not something that ever happens. If I look down at my keyboard at all, it’s likely because I’ve just pushed the wrong button and realised my fingers are misaligned. It’s certainly not to watch some flashy lights play across the WASD keys.

So really, what’s the point of my RGB keyboard? Those extra lights are drawing power from my computer in order to light up, I have special software taking up space on my desktop to keep them running properly (and be patched, of course), and the lights even add extra weight to my keyboard that doesn’t need to be there.

They’re an utterly pointless addition to a vital accessory. I can’t see any way to argue otherwise.

So why are they still here? Well, honestly, it’s because we all quite like them, despite the fact they’re utterly pointless.

Why haven’t I turned it off?

As I mentioned earlier, my own keyboard has RGB lights on it. Those lights come in a number of different modes, including cycling through the spectrum, flashing out from a key when hit, and even — shockingly enough — off.

I can turn the RGB lights on my keyboard off. So … why haven’t I?

I totally admit that all of the above is absolutely true. RGB lights are childish. They do use more power (even if it’s not very much at all). They’re absolutely not necessary to my day to day use of my PC, and heck, I rarely even see them when I’m gaming. But even with all that in mind, there’s some part of me that finds delight in them.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what this hobby of ours is all about? I’m old enough to be of the generation when gaming wasn’t necessarily as accepted as it is today. In 2023, almost everyone is a gamer to some extent, whether it’s Warzone or Candy Crush. It wasn’t always that way, and I guess I’ve gotten used to my hobby being a bit embarrassing. So why not embrace that and just enjoy the twinkly lights. So much of modern life is "sleek", "executive", "stylish". All code words for "black and a bit boring". Gaming culture has reacted against that strongly, and it seems that a big part of that is having RGB gear.

Sure, having a keyboard that lights up is a little embarrassing, but it’s not hurting anyone, and it makes me happy.