Keyboard/Mouse vs Gamepad on Playing FPS Games

The video game industry is a big deal in our modern economy, and video game players are getting more recognition. It is then important for video game players to have the necessary mean to win a game while playing, especially in an online game session or a tournament, where they can earn money or reputation. The most important way a video game player can interact with the game is by using an input device as game controller, that may be classified as keyboards, mice, gamepads (also called game controller), joysticks, steering wheel etc.

One of the most popular gaming genre in the Professional gaming world is First Person Shooter (FPS). A frequent argument[1][2] among the FPS player community is whether using a keyboard/mouse or a game controller to play is more effective than the other. Some articles can be found on the web. Still it is difficult to find scientific analysis on the topic.

I decided to run a small study to scientifically analyze the performances of these two input methods for one of my class report, in order discover if a player performance is impacted by the use of one input device or another. The Wilcoxon signed rank test has been used as statistical tool for the comparisons.

As experimental method different participants played  the training session of Team Fortress, both with a Keyboard/Mouse and with a game controller. Twelve (12) participants have been recruited  (10 males, 2 females). They were all students, in the 25-30 age range. 3 of them had no experience in playing FPS games. 7 of them were familiar with using the mouse/keyboard for playing FPS games while 5 others were not. 8 were familiar with using a game controller to play FPS games while the 4 others were not. They all have previous generic gaming experience with the mouse and keyboard, but only 1 participant had no prior experience in using a game controller.

Static target shooting session during the Gameplay of Team Fortress 2 practice.

A generic ‘QWERTY’ layout keyboard and a general purpose mouse has been used as the mouse/keyboard combination input, and an Xbox360 controller which is a generic purpose game controller used for console gaming as well as PC gaming has been used as gamepad input

The speed of execution and the shooting accuracy has been used as comparison variables.
We observed that both performances are impacted by the input device. Looking at the data and after applying the Wilcoxon statistical test, we are tempted to say that playing an FPS game with a combination of Keyboard/Mouse can make the player faster in executing actions and improve his/her accuracy. This is probably because even though most candidates felt comfortable using the game controller, it was difficult for them to aim at targets using the game controller right stick than using the mouse. This may be due to the fact that most candidates are more familiar with the mouse because they use it in their daily life for other tasks in addition to playing games.

Pairs of time spend (seconds) in each gaming session [left], and pairs of shooting accuracy percentage for each participants [right], using different type of controller

We may diversify population by including people who are either unfamiliar with video games or unfamiliar with both the keyboard and a game controller, in future work to be sure about this.

Another interesting investigation may be to look at the performance of Gun controller  for video game such as the ‘Delta Six’ controller to check if they worth the hype!

The full report can be found here. Your comments are welcome !