For FPS fans, tilting one’s keyboard is pretty much the norm. However, for those who are new to FPS esports or those who are coming from other Esports genres such as MOBA, then seeing gamers tilt their keyboards will surely come as a big surprise. Some may even wonder if these tilts are necessary to play these games and if it’s comfortable and safe for the players to use such extreme keyboard angles.
Tilting keyboards began as a necessity in the early days of esports. It then became the norm and was adopted by future generations of gamers who worshipped the pros before them. The act of tilting keyboards is meant to maximize desk space and position your keyboard more naturally.
As surprising as it is, tilting your keyboard does have many health benefits as long as done correctly. And while not exactly necessary, it has helped hone the playstyle of many successful FPS players, easily making it their trademark.
In this article, we will be taking a deep dive into the concept of tilting keyboards for gaming. We will look at its roots in the competitive scene and discuss why professional gamers still do it. And by the end of this article, we will be giving our take on whether or not you should tilt your keyboard while playing games.
The History of Tilting Keyboards
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Despite its massive popularity in today’s gaming culture, the roots of keyboard tilting are very hard to pinpoint. After all, gamers in the early 2000s did not have access to tools to document themselves, and gaming wasn’t exactly popular, nor did it have a good reputation with the general public. But based on the accounts of gamers, gaming news outlets, and esports personalities, tilting keyboards most likely began with the competitive Counter-Strike scene.
Counter-Strike is one of the oldest Esports titles. The first CS tournament could be traced back as early as 2000. Back then, many peripherals and gaming products we now take for granted did not exist. There were no specialized gaming keyboards and gaming mice.
There were also no gaming desks or extra-large mousepads made specifically for FPS. And most of all, the tournaments that held these competitions did not have any equipment to cater to the Counter-Strike players at the time. Given these limitations, CS players at the time had to make do with what they had.
The biggest problem that they had was space. Most keyboards in the 90s and 2000s were large full-sized keyboards that were meant for office work. For other esports titles, such as Starcraft, Dota, and League of Legends, these large keyboards were perfectly usable. However, for Counter-Strike, large keyboards were a big problem since they limited mouse movement.
Unlike many Esports titles, CS and other tactical shooters require precise mouse movement. And to achieve the highest level of precision, most tactical FPS players prefer using a low sensitivity, which means that they would be making larger mouse movements. Given how large their keyboards were and how limited desk space they had, most CS players resorted to tilting their keyboards to make room for more mouse space.
Tilting Keyboards in Modern Gaming and Esports
Over the course of the next 20 years. Esports greatly evolved. It is now recognized as a real sport, and professional gamers are now legitimate athletes. Given how much attention Esports has received, gaming equipment has also evolved to accommodate the needs of professional gamers.
The gaming peripheral that has significantly evolved is the keyboard. Most keyboards used by professional gamers, including gaming keyboards and custom keyboards, have largely shrunken in size. Unlike the 104 full-size standard layout keyboards used in the past, modern keyboards are now available in smaller form factor options.
Some of the most popular small form factor keyboards include a 60%/65% keyboard which contains 61 to 68 keys, as well as TKL and 75% keyboards which usually have 87 keys. In addition, there are now plenty of desk manufacturers that create specialized products for gamers and other professionals who rely on their computer setups.
Given how optimized today’s equipment and tournament conditions are, the most logical assumption would be that tilting keyboards are no longer necessary. However, that is not the case. Tilting keyboards is still alive and well in the gaming community. And in the next section, we will explain why this is the case.
Benefits of Tilting Keyboards
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The main reason why many gamers still tilt their keyboards is better ergonomics. As we have mentioned earlier, the primary goal of gamers tilting their keyboards was to maximize available desk space for their mice. However, without them realizing it, they have also made their keyboards more comfortable and better suited for their playstyle.
The conventional keyboard design and layout, invented in the late 80s and still used by today’s keyboards, is not exactly designed for gaming. It was designed to cater to typists and professionals. IBM’s Model M keyboard design, which most companies later adapted, was based on a typewriter and was meant to help typewriter users transition to computers.
The traditional keyboard design still worked well for most computer games. But when it came to high-level competitive shooters, the conventional computer keyboard layout had its limitations, especially when it came to comfort.
But by tilting the keyboard to a certain angle, gamers place their keyboards in a more natural and comfortable position. And over time, this kind of position can help alleviate the problems that can happen when playing in a non-ergonomic position.
Ergonomic professionals aren’t the only ones claiming the benefits of a tilted/slanted keyboard. Even keyboard designers primarily catering to professionals and typists agree that the standard keyboard layout can be further improved.
Large companies such as Microsoft have released ergonomic keyboards that feature slanted keys that allow users to position their hands in a more natural position without having to tilt their keyboards. The ergonomic keyboard design has also made its way to the custom keyboard world in the form of Arisu/Alice layout keyboards.
And lastly, there are also split keyboards that separate the left and right sides of the keyboard into two individual pieces. This keyboard design allows users to angle and position their keyboard to cater to their needs and typing position. They can even get rid of the other half to maximize desk space for their mouse hand. All these newer keyboard designs and advancements prove that tilting keyboards have legitimate ergonomic benefits for FPS players.
Accommodates to the Preference of Gamers
Another benefit of tilting keyboards while gaming is that it caters specifically to the player’s unique playstyle. There are many accomplished FPS players such as Shaiiko and Tarikwho made their full vertically tilted keyboards their trademark. Even well-known players outside of tactical FPS, such as Tfue and Slappie, who primarily play Fortnite, fully tilt their keyboards vertically.
When asked why they position their keyboards in such a way, it mostly comes down to personal preference. Players like Tfue prefer fully tilting their keyboards to maximize their mouse space, especially for LAN events. Other players fully tilt their keyboards to reach certain keys and develop unique keybindings that would typically be very hard or impossible to do with a traditional horizontally oriented keyboard.
Another possible benefit of these extreme keyboard tilts is that they can place you into a specific posture which can increase concentration or immersion. While there is no scientific study regarding this matter, it is pretty much similar to the concept of having a battle stance or having a correct posture to maximize your efficiency while studying.
Downsides of Tilting Keyboards When Gaming
The downsides of tilting keyboards will only truly start showing when players start doing extreme tilts that ultimately affect their posture. Gamers with extreme tilts on their keyboards tend to assume a hunchback sitting position. And over time, poor posture will cause long-term damage to your back and possibly other body parts.
Studies regarding the posture and sitting position of professional gamers and amateur competitive gamers have only started taking off in the last couple of years. But regardless, it is best to be mindful of your posture and sitting position when experimenting with different levels of keyboard tilt.
Different Keyboard Tilt Positions
Speaking of different levels of keyboard tilts, let us quickly go over some of the commonly used keyboard positions in gaming. These keyboard tilt angles/levels do not have official names, so we will just describe them based on how tilted they are.
5-degree Keyboard Tilt
The 5-Degree keyboard tilt is arguably the most commonly used keyboard tilt by FPS players. It features a slight tilt and does not deviate too much from the standard fully horizontal keyboard position. Most of the staff here at Keyboardsexpert who play Valorant use this type of tilt.
In our experience, this keyboard position allows our hands to sit in a more natural position. It also allows us to maximize the available room for wider mouse movements. Most of us use 65% keyboards which can still be inadequate when using a very low mouse sensitivity.
To avoid hitting the edge of our keyboards, we move our keyboards farther to the left side of our desks. In doing so, our keyboards are moving further from our natural typing position. But when slightly tilting our keyboards, our left hand assumes a more natural position which is more comfortable for longer gaming sessions.
This type of keyboard tilt naturally came to most of us without even realizing it. We started slightly tiling our keyboards to accommodate our playstyle. We imagine that most players started doing the same thing and are unlikely to be influenced by other gamers.
45-Degree Keyboard Tilt
The 45-degree keyboard tilt is a more pronounced variation of the 5-degree keyboard tilt. It pretty much has the same benefits as the 5-degree keyboard tilt but allows users to reach certain keys easier. It also allows them to anchor their entire arm to their desk.
Some gamers most likely adopted this position due to having a certain type of chair or desk. Regardless, choosing this type of tilt over the more subtle 5-degree keyboard tilt will come down to personal preference and the type of desk and chair you have.
Full Vertical Tilt
Lastly, we have the full vertical tilt. This is the type of keyboard tilt that has been adopted by many professional FPS players. As we have mentioned earlier, it has many benefits, such as easily reaching hard-to-reach keys and maximizing desk space.
However, this type of keyboard tilt will put you into an unconventional sitting position. Feel free to experiment with how well this type of keyboard position works for your playstyle.
Tilting Keyboards in Other Games
The act of tilting keyboards is pretty much exclusive to FPS games. And as we mentioned earlier, the concept of tilting keyboards can be completely foreign to those coming from other Esports titles. So at this point, some may start to wonder, should players of other game genres try tilting their keyboards?
The short answer is, not really. Unlike FPS, other game genres do not need absurd desk space for wide mouse movements. Faker, League of Legends’ most popular and decorated player, is using a very high 3500 DPI. What that tells us is that low DPI is not necessarily needed for these kinds of games, so there is no reason to modify your keyboard position to accommodate more mouse space.
Sure, you can try to experiment with slight keyboard tilts for a more natural position. But in our experience, our hands do not deviate from our typing position in most competitive titles that aren’t shooters.
Conclusion – Should you Tilt Your Keyboard for Gaming?
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Now that we know why professional gamers tilt their keyboards, the question is if you should also start tilting your keyboard while gaming. The answer to that is it depends on your personal preference.
Each player has a unique playstyle and will approach the game differently. Thus, there should be no rules that will dictate how they hold their keyboards. Of course, there will still be conventions to help gamers maintain a healthy playstyle. But ultimately, the exact tilt and position you choose should be catered to how you play the game.
If you came from Dota 2 and League and are already used to a regular horizontal keyboard position, there’s nothing wrong with that. And likewise, if you find that tilting your keyboard makes reaching keys such as the CTRL, C, and V keys easier, then feel free to go with it.
Just keep in mind that the keyboard position you choose should not cause any strain on your arms, fingers, or back. If it does, try to correct them immediately to avoid long-term damage.
And lastly, feel free to experiment with different keyboard tilts and angles. You may be surprised at how much your playstyle can change or even improve by changing your keyboard’s positioning.