Tell Me I’m Wrong: Thumbs were Made for Hitchhiking… Not Gaming!

Thumbs evolved so we could hitchhike, hold a pint of beer, bowl, and throw a football. It's not made for aiming a weapon!
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Welcome back Gamer Geeks! As you wait for the next-next gen console to drop later tonight (I thought there could be only one)… are you ready to Tell Me I’m Wrong?

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Good, because I have two words for you: gamepads suck! 

Before you bite my head off… know that this isn’t your typical PC gamer fanboy rant about how consoles suck. Quite the contrary. I dig ’em, and I’m waiting with bated breath to see what new life changing features will come from these shiny new boxes. But…

I hate the controllers used to interface with them, and because of that I like them a whole lot less than my trusty computer rig equipped with a laser mouse sporting true 4000dpi and a vastly superior and highly configurable keyboard.

Let me explain… (how that master race image got into this article completely by mistake).

I was at a friend’s house recently “getting fragged” on Maker’s  Mark whiskey and Call of Duty: Ghosts.  Keep in mind that I haven’t played a game with someone physically sitting next to me since MTV aired only music videos.

There we were – swearing and screaming at players on the opposing team who were so good that playing Ghosts must be their full-time job.

We high-fived each other (yes, we are super heroes) when we took control of a hard-fought point on the map, and clinked our whiskey glasses in congratulatory revelry when we won a match.

Even the split screen feature was exhilarating once I uncrossed my eyes and got used to the shenanigans it played on my peripheral vision. 

In fact, it was the most fun I’ve had gaming since I was a little kid working my Atari joystick! And no, that’s not a euphemism for… oh nevermind. 

But there is one Jupiter-sized downside to the experience that simply cannot be swept aside. Playing a shooter with a gamepad sucks. Hard. It was only after hours (literally) of constantly getting my ass handed to me that I finally got “good” enough to not come in last place every round.

See, as important as that opposable thumb has been to the evolution of our species it still can’t aim worth a shit.

As a die-hard PC gamer here’s one thing I know for sure: the accuracy and control of a mouse and keyboard (hereafter refered to as MKB) will always and forever beat a gamepad that forces you to “aim” a weapon using the toe-shaped digits on your monkey mitts.

The whole spray and pray method of shooting might be just fine for gamepadders – because really, what other choice do you have? – but that’s not the case with those of us who prefer to use “an elegant weapon for a more civilized age” (MKB).

Anyone remember Shadowrun? Released in 2007 for Vista and XBox 360, it allowed the holy grail of matchups — PC vs. console. I spent hours in it pwning thumb twiddling gamers. It received mediocre (at best) reviews for a number of reasons: it was pricey given the lack of content, Vista was a horrible OS, only to be matched by the terrible Games for Windows Live initiative…

But the one thing that got lost (covered up?) was the Grand Canyon wide disparity in the fundamental functionality between gamepads and MKBs.

It simply wasn’t a fair fight.

The one-sidedness of the “competition”, along with a few other bits of circumstantial evidence, has led some to speculate that Microsoft intentionally “killed off” cross-platform gaming. (nothing like conspiracy theories!)

During the long, slow learning curve that played out over the evening my “buddy” couldn’t help but make fun of me because I kept asking him: How do I crouch? How do I sprint? Which one of these million brightly colored bedazzled buttons lets me throw a damn grenade? Ya know… the sorts of basic things that let you actually do well during a firefight.

I get that it’s just a matter of learning what does what and wear everything is located on the pad, and that comes with lots of practice and repetition. It’d be like asking a gamepadder to sit down at a MKB layout and expecting them to rack up kills like Fatal1ty instantly. Not going to happen.

But getting your Neanderthalish thumbs to operate with the precision of a surgeon — to, in effect, do something they weren’t designed to do… well, that’s something altogether different.

So go right ahead and tell me how wrong I am to say that thumbs were made for bowling, throwing a football, grabbing a pint, and The Fonz… not for gaming. I double dog dare ya.

 #MKBFL = Mouse & Keyboard for Life baby!


“Tell Me I’m Wrong” is a somewhat regular rambling (weekly, bi-weekly… whenever) where I delve into a topic that I want to get off my chest. Sometimes it will reflect on my years as a gamer, or my years as a game journalist. Other times… who knows. 

I encourage you to join in the madness and let me know if I’m on to something… or just bat shit crazy. 


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Image of Eli "The Mad Man" Shayotovich
Eli "The Mad Man" Shayotovich
Pong, Pitfall and Pole Position were my babysitters, which means I've been traipsing through virtual realities longer than most of you young whipper snappers have been alive. How did cutting my teeth on video games influence me? Private investigator, body guard and bounty hunter. Video game characters, right? Yup, but they're also things I've done in real life. I've also written professionally about Star Wars, video games and craft beer. --- "Save the Earth. It's the only planet with beer." "Fairy tales are more than true - not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." G. K. Chesterton