After much anticipation, a package rocked up at the Kotaku offices this week. We get a lot of packages coming through the doors, especially when you share space with fashion websites, the fast-food junkies at Lifehacker and the rotating carousel of mobiles that rolls into Gizmodo.
But this package was special. It was a mouse, not that I needed another. But it was new and that was enough to be exciting.
I had a series of drawers next to my computer desk in my bedroom — just crappy, plastic shelving. Part of that storage space was dedicated to one very specific thing: gaming mice.
I've owned more gaming mice in my life than I care to admit. Case in point: about three years ago, I discovered Zowie mice for the first time. I'd been looking for a modern replacement to the Intellimouse 1.1a mice that had gained legendary status during the early Counter-Strike days, a mouse that I still have stashed away.
I thought the Zowie mice were it: the shape was perfect, there was no bloatware to deal with, no tricks or gimmicks. So I bought one. Then a second model came out. I bought that too. And another. I ended up with five Zowie mice in a few months. I had so many that when a colleague - nearing retirement age with no interest or care for video games whatsoever - complained about her mouse dying, I simply gave her one. I wasn't using it; I probably could have sold it online for a little bit of cash if I wasn't interested.
But I gave it away, and here I am with new hardware once more.
Why? Because it feels good.
It doesn't matter how much the hardware costs, it's always fun discovering the ins and outs of new tech
Part of the fun of buying hardware is that it's a very tactile experience. You're always looking for something that feels good, as much as you are looking for something that serves a purpose. And what feels good changes from game to game, often rapidly.
I found a larger mouse, for instance, was better for playing Counter-Strike and Call of Duty tournaments. The extra weight helped counteract any jitters I might have from downing multiple bottles of Red Bull/V at the time, but it also helped when making small adjustments to counteract recoil. Spraying an AK-47 is a skill many people learn, but there's controlling it to a fixed point, and then there's controlling it to a moving target.
StarCraft, on the other hand, has a different set of demands entirely. After mucking around with my existing crop of mice, I ended up ordering a special mouse off eBay. It was a smaller version of the Razer Salmosa that was only sold in China and South Korea, and it was tiny:
Smaller mice compared, starting with the MS Intellimouse 1.1a on the left, the two iterations of the Razer Salmosa, and Zowie's MiCO. Image: Overclock.net
But it served its purpose: the clicks were light, and I could fling the Salmosa around with abandon. That was perfect for the hundreds of hotkey presses, mouse clicks, movements, minimap checks and actions a game of StarCraft demanded.
And as soon as I got my hands on that new piece of hardware, the cycle was the same: brief elation, a new-found excitement for the routine, a fleeting hit of positivity with every win, every mistake. I'm just getting used to the new hardware. My aim will be a little off. I'm winning because this is the one. I haven't got the grip down quite yet. Next round will be better.
It applies to consoles too. Something you might not notice if you always stick with the default Sony or Microsoft controller is that the sensitivity curves are often fractionally different from controller to controller. Occasionally it's just the horizontal sensitivity; sometimes it's both. And then you have the nuances of the buttons themselves; how quickly can you snap down the iron sights. How much grip do you have on the back of the controller? How comfortable are the back buttons and paddles to press. Are they worth binding?
It's almost like an addiction.
Anyone who has tried to find an equivalent of the Elite controller for the PS4 will understand the cycle of excitement and discovery before inevitable disappointment (Image: Supplied)
There is a practical element to getting new gear. Gaming binges take their toll and fatigue can be an issue. From time to time I’d need breaks for the sake of my wrists, fingers and forearms. Lighter and smaller mice helped, but not too small. That makes my hand cramp.
So I continued looking for new mice. Over the years, I started playing more games on consoles which helped; they're a lot more ergonomic than the stress put on your wrist and forearm by long Counter-Strike sessions. And it helped fuel that excitement of trying something new.
From today, I'll be using the Logitech G Pro Gaming Mouse. Who knows how long that will last: maybe half a year, or more. Or maybe I'll buy two, just so I can have one at work and one at home. That's a complete waste of money, of course. But buying new hardware never stops being fun, until you run out of money at least.