Esports athlete Epitácio “Taco” de Melo used a prototype of the Razer Viper gaming mouse in tournament matches over the past year. The new lightweight mouse is available for $79.99 (Photo: Razer USA)
Many gamers already have. Sales of video game accessories such as controllers, headsets, steering wheels and other products hit $2.3 billion in 2018, up 28% from the year before, according to The NPD Group Retail Tracking Service.
That’s the highest sales totals since 2010 ($2.4 billion), driven by sales of Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller for Xbox 360 in November that year. The best-selling accessory each of the last two years has been Sony’s DualShock Wireless controller for PlayStation 4, according to NPD.
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But gamer communication has helped drive accessory sales in recent months, says Mat Piscatella, a games industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Fortnite” and other battle royale online games “were a big driver of this as communicating with friends while playing is a big part of the experience,” Piscatella said. “Gaming … is the new social hangout spot.”
All ears for video game headsets
Want to chat with friends while gaming? There are plenty of headsets to choose from. Most gaming headphones are dark, but the economically priced Turtle Beach Recon Spark ($49.95) has a lighter-color touch of white and lavender. The headset has a 52-inch cable, delivers surround sound, is made with softer foam to make it more comfortable for glasses wearers, and works with PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PCs and mobile devices.
Astro Gaming’s A50 Wireless Headset and Base Station lets gamers listen and chat – and streamers stream – in high quality surround sound. (Photo: Astro Gaming)
You can go wireless with ASTRO Gaming’s A50 Wireless Headset and Base Station ($299.99, choose either PS4/PC or Xbox One/PC), which lets gamers listen and chat – and streamers stream – in high-quality surround sound. You can further tweak the sound using its command center audio software. With wireless connectivity up to 30 feet, the headset has 15 hours of battery life when fully charged. A cushioned headband and ear cushions allow for extensive playing bouts.
Shoot and score with an NBA 2K chair
Raynor Gaming’s NBA 2K Energy Pro chair (available for pre-order now, $399, raynorgaming.com) is made with Outlast material, originally developed for NASA, which absorbs and releases heat so it stays cool. (Photo: Raynor Gaming)
Speaking of comfort, why not have a special chair dedicated to gaming? Raynor Gaming is updating its Energy Pro chair so you can get one with the logo and color schemes of the 21 teams in the NBA 2K League.
The comfortable but durable chair (pre-order now, $399; now available without team colors, $329) is made with Outlast material, originally developed for NASA, which absorbs and releases heat so it stays cool as those online game battles extend into the night or early morning. Not into NBA 2K? There are plenty of other color schemes to choose from.
Looking for complete control
Standard controller not tactile enough for you? Or want to program some moves? You can choose from a variety of new controllers for your console.
ASTRO Gaming’s high-end C40 TR controller for PS4 ($199.99, also compatible with PCs), plays wired or wirelessly and comes with swappable analog stick caps. There are two programmable rear buttons, and you can also map functions to other buttons and adjust triggers. Configured button profiles and audio settings can be saved using online software. The controller has 12 hours of battery life, too.
If customization is key, Scuf Gaming’s newest models, the Vantage controller for PS4 & PC ($169.95) and the Prestige Xbox controller ($159.95, also for PCs) each has a quartet of programmable (and removable) paddles on the underside. You can also swap out thumbsticks and adjust triggers to fit your hand and style.
The Vantage, Scuf’s most advanced controller, also adds a pair of programmable buttons on the side of the PS4 controller and an audio adjustment bar. You can get up to 20 hours of gaming with the Vantage, up to 30 hours with the Prestige.
The Scuf Gaming Vantage controller for PS4 & PC ($169.95) has four programmable paddles on the underside, buttons on the side and changeable thumbsticks and adjustable triggers. (Photo: Scuf Gaming)
A mouse moving at the speed of light
If the mouse is your gaming device of choice, Razer’s latest model, the Viper ($79.99), is its fastest and lightest ever. Internally, the Viper uses infrared light for its optical switches – rather than traditional mechanical switches – to transfer player’s moves, slicing precious fractions of milliseconds from gesture to on-screen response. The Viper’s lightweight (69 grams, or 0.15 pounds) and Speedflex cable make it easier to perform fast sweeping swipes, too. You also get eight programmable buttons.
Razer also recently launched its own line of Respawn gaming drinks. Aimed to improve mental performance, Respawn drinks are sugar-free and made with 95 milligrams of caffeine, along with B vitamins, choline, green tea extract and ground ginger. You can buy flavors individually – choose from Pomegranate Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, Tropical Pineapple or Green Apple – in boxes of 20 pre-measured mix packs ($24.99) or in a starter kit with a Respawn shaker ($54.98).
Respawn is an all-new mental performance drink mix designed for gamers, by gamers. $24.99 USD Drink mix sold in 20-pack box for $24.99 (Flavors: Pomegranate Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, Tropical Pineapple, Green Apple); Shaker cup ($29.99) (Photo: Razer)
The better to see with …
Lengthy gaming sessions can lead to tired eyes. Gunnar Optiks Torpedo Fit gaming glasses (pre-order now for $79.99, expected ship date Aug. 13) block blue light from computer displays and devices – and 100% of UV light, too. You can see everything with the wraparound design; the frames are designed to fit well with gaming headsets.
Gunnar Optiks Torpedo gaming glasses ($79.99) have a lightweight frame with panoramic viewing lenses and low profile temples for use with gaming headsets. (Photo: Gunnar Optiks)
Three nose bridges let you customize the fit. In addition to gaming glasses, Gunnar also makes computer glasses, reading glasses and sunglasses (with or without prescriptions).
Video gaming on the go
Sometimes, you have a road game. That’s where GAEMS comes in. The makers of gaming environments initially targeted athletes, celebrities and military personnel who wanted an all-in-one case to transport their video game console and play while on the go.
The company’s latest product, the Guardian Pro XP ($699.99, available in the U.S. at GameStop stores, Amazon and online) is an all-in-one carrying case and multimedia control system that works with PS4 and Xbox One consoles and some micro ATX PCs.
Slip the hardware in and watch your game on the system’s anti-glare 24-inch display. Listen to it on the built-in simulated surround sound system. And you can mount your webcam, microphone and any lights to the casing and stream out to the world. An HDMI output lets you capture video, too. And the hardshell case keeps everything safe.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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No Female Character in CoD: Modern Warfare?
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Beta has been in full swing for a couple of days now. While the game has received slack because of some unconventional design choices, it still is a core Call of Duty experience which i think most people would enjoy. However, while playing the beta, i couldn’t help but notice the lack of female characters in the multiplayer game modes. This was rather strange since Infinity Ward had announced earlier that the game would have playable female characters. Usually, these characters are much more nimble and really help if you prefer a faster playing style.
So, i went on over to twitter to ask if these characters had been removed for some reason. However, what i got in response was a bunch of dismissive, sexist and misogynistic replies saying that the game is better without females anyway. This sad state of affairs snapped me back to the reality of how inclusivity is actually frowned upon in the core video game community.
Inclusivity in video games has always been a massive point of debate throughout the history of games. While most people would agree that all forms of art and media should be inclusive enough for everyone, things have not been so smooth for the video games industry to adopt this mindset. The ‘hardcore’ gaming community, sadly, just isn’t ready to accept any change that pushes us towards the greater good.
Every time game developers try to include women and minorities in their games just to make them more relatable and inclusive for everyone, they are met with review bombs and other forms of unjustified criticism from the core ‘gamers’. It is actually pretty bonkers to see how far people are willing to go just to undermine something that does not affect them or their experience in any way.
Sadly, this bad behaviour isn’t just limited to the video game community. We’ve seen some really bad cases of sexism in the gaming industry during recent times as well. However, slowly but surely, things are moving in the right direction. For example, we’re seeing better working conditions for women in the industry thanks to a lot of hard work and bravery from these women.
Female Protagonists in Games are actually good
We’re also seeing video games being much more inclusive. From Cyberpunk 2077 not having a binary gender option for character creation to Gears 5 moving to a female protagonist for the first time in the series, things are moving in the right direction. However, if you think that these changes are hindering your experience in any way, you’re wrong. You can still choose to play as a white male in Cyberpunk 2077 and the majority of video games still have male protagonists in them.
However, some of the best video games of recent times like Horizon Zero Dawn, Tomb Raider, Gears 5 and the upcoming The Last of Us 2 all have female protagonists. So, saying that having a female lead in a game would somehow make it worse is just not true, whether you like it or not.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and why it is important for games to be more inclusive
Recently, when Infinity Ward announced that Call of Duty Modern Warfare will include playable female characters, it was met with the same unjustified criticism. This is not the first time we’ve seen this though and people are just used to it at this point. Back when Battlefield V was announced with Female characters, people had the same reaction. However, people need to realise that video games are a form of art and the right of expressing that art in any way or form is in the hands of the artist.
Video games have never been about being historically accurate. If you wanted that, you could watch a historical documentary instead. Video Games are meant to be fun and relatable. They’re played by millions of people around the entire world. If these people around the world don’t feel like they are a part of this magical universe that a developer has conjured up for them, then what is the point of art anymore? No other form of media can connect us with the characters it has like video games because for a brief moment in time, games make us feel like we are that character.
The ability to see yourself in the character you’re playing is probably what sets video games apart from everything else as an art form. This is especially true for multiplayer games, which brings us back to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Having a female character in multiplayer is only a good thing. This would mean that millions of female gamers would actually be able to feel like they’re a part of this universe that we’ve all come to enjoy and love. Furthermore, it doesn’t affect anyone else in any way. You can still pick your usual male characters so you’re not losing any part of the experience.
The addition of something doesn’t always have to come at a cost of something else. However, if, for some weird reason, even hearing a female character in a multiplayer match triggers you, then you have some serious issues and I hope you find the help you need.
Video games are arguably the most expansive and expressive form of art out there. Everyone deserves to experience this amazing art form in the most relatable and immersive way possible. We have made some really good strides during recent times to curb stomp the negativity that surrounds the whole industry. However, there is still a long way to go and I hope, with time, we can all feel happy just to be a part of this amazing community and experience these magical worlds together in complete harmony.