A lot of gamers over time end up very particular about their equipment, whether that means what controllers they’re using or which systems they’re gaming on. Sometimes, considerations like these comes down to fairly simple choices, such as the one we explored when comparing TV’s vs. monitors for gaming. In other cases though, today’s gamers may also have the option of eschewing available products altogether, in favor of building their own alternatives.
This is not meant to suggest that you should set about building your own gaming PC or PlayStation 4 knock-off (though rest assured people do pull off these complicated projects). But when it comes to equipment and accessories — controllers, keyboards, interactive accessories and the like — it can be relatively manageable to build your own peripherals when you can’t find one you like in stores.
In this piece, we won’t go over the step-by-step processes involved in these projects. They each have their own demands, and generally you can find some instructions or demos around the internet that can get you on the right track. We will, however, go over three relevant skills that will likely come in handy for those who do decide to design and build their own gaming equipment.
1 | 3D Printing
3D printing is a magnificent technology that is now fairly widely available to the average consumer. This is due to the prices going down a lot and tons of online marketplaces for custom prints. Among other things, it’s greatly simplified the process of printing the actual casings and even small internal parts for accessories such as game controllers, keyboards, and even headphones.
As we see it, there are three main ways in which 3D printing can come in handy for those designing their own gaming equipment.
First, one can actually learn how to create original designs within various 3D modeling software. This way you can make fully custom products and parts without relying on others designs. Which such design skills, you can then proceed to make modifications to other peoples designs to improve upon them even more, which brings us to the second way.
The internet is an endless supply of designs, both terrible and great. Hence you can easily find existing designs online that you can either pay to use or even download for free in order to print your own products. This also means you can sell your own designs, in case you make very unique gaming equipment that you wish to share with others.
And finally, there have actually been examples of 3D printers creating game controllers in their entirety — electronics and all — for years now. Some say this takes some of the “skill” and fun out of the building process, but sometimes convenience is key.
2 | PCB Design
For those who really want to dive into the technical aspects of making their own gaming equipment, PCB design can be an invaluable skill. Essentially, this is the practice of actually customizing circuit boards that will facilitate the electronic connections, and through those the functions, of gaming devices.
It’s good to note that there are tons of different complexities to different PCB’s. Even your PC’s motherboard is a PCB or Printed Circuit Board, which is extremely complex. It handles the communication between different components like memory and central processing unit or CPU. On the other end of the spectrum there are small PCB’s like the ones found inside an Xbox controller, ensuring the few buttons work in unison to provide communications with the game console.
If that sounds like a complicated project to create on your own, it certainly can be! PCB design needs to be learned and practiced from the ground up before adequate results can be achieved. With that said, modern PCB design software can be customized according to each individual project to make the process more efficient.
That is, once you learn the basics, you can use step-by-step software design programs to craft projects exactly according to your needs. This way you will be able to create ideal circuit boards for your gaming equipment.
3 | Online Shopping
We might not typically classify online shopping as a “skill,” but when attempting a project like building your own gaming equipment, it can be just that. This is because some of the parts you’re likely to need — whether that means attachable joysticks, keyboard caps, various wires or connectors, etc. — may be hard to find in traditional online stores.
For this reason, you’ll need to develop some skill at finding alternative sources and tracking down the parts you need. Foreign markets, sources for computer parts, and peer-to-peer resale markets can all be worth looking into. Though in the end you never know where you might have the most luck.
Your success will also greatly depend on your budget and quantity requirements. If you’re looking to just purchase a dozen parts for a few projects, you’re definitely better off finding separate individual components as mentioned above. However if you plan to make it into a business eventually, you will need to look into more serious providers and bulk deals.
Mastering these skills is only the first step toward successfully designing your own gaming equipment. Once you’ve done so, you may still have a fairly complicated project on your hands. For those gamers who may be interested in customizing accessories and building equipment though, focusing on these concepts can make for good preparation.
Being able to build custom gaming equipment for your personal needs will definitely help you adapt your gaming experience accordingly. The more comfortable you feel navigating in your gaming environment, the better your experiences and performance will be.