At no point in history have video games been as popular as they are today. The gaming industry is set to overtake both films and music as the biggest moneymaker. Everyone plays video games these days. Whether it’s a free-to-play puzzle game on a phone or a AAA title on a console, most people spend some time playing video games.

So it makes sense that plenty of people are trying to muscle in to get some of that sweet, sweet gamer cash. That’s fine in and of itself, but it also means there are plenty of products out there that are definitely not good for gaming or have nothing to do with gaming at all. This site exists to point out where all the good gamer gear is, but I also think it’s important for gamers to know when they are paying extra for something that adds true value rather than something that exploits their passion. So let’s take a few minutes to talk about gaming “scam” products and when you should think twice about opening up your wallet.

What Makes Something a Gaming Product?

This is really the most important question of all. Plenty of products have the word “gaming” stuck on them, but do they deserve it? There are two products that fit the gamer bill: the first type of product is one that improves the experience of gaming in one way or another; the second is one that fits into game culture, or at least specific gamer subcultures such as eSport.

So a mouse that has additional buttons and high precision beyond what anyone would need for an Excel spreadsheet can legitimately be called a gaming product. A normal office mouse with fancy lights is not.

When it comes to the aesthetic side of gamer products, it’s subjective and personal. The industry has its own ideas about what gamers like as a group. The good news is that there’s more diversity in styles and approaches, because not everyone wants their gamer gear to look like a Mardi Gras float.

So when someone tells you their product is for gamers, then you should ask yourself how it makes gaming better and how it fits into your personal style as a gamer. If it fails to do either of these, it might be better to move on.

RGB is Optional

At this point, the “RGB everything” trend has become a bit of a joke. I remember it well when we started moving from beige PC boxes to bespoke gamer cases with lights and side panel windows. It was pretty awesome. These days just about every gaming component has RGB – from graphics cards to motherboards and everything in between. The latest card I bought (an RTX 2060) was the first GPU I’ve owned that lights up. My motherboard is also ringed with LEDs that flash and pulse in various patterns.

I happen to think this is pretty cool, but it has ZERO relevance to how well these components work. I didn’t buy them because they had these RGB features, but because they had the right performance at a good price. Of course, if you are personally a huge fan of RGB lighting or LED lighting on your gaming product, then by all means pay for what you think is important. However, the idea that components that don’t have RGB lighting can’t also be top-notch gaming products is bunk.

rgb pc components

Quality and Performance Above All

This feeds neatly into my next point: quality and performance are what matter. When you evaluate something like a gaming mouse, the first criteria should be things like how ergonomic it is, how many buttons it has, and what the DPI rating and settings are. Whether it looks cool or lights up are secondary. It’s much easier to make a gaming product that looks cool but has bad build quality and doesn’t work well. There’s nothing wrong with being flashy, but there’s plenty wrong with a product that uses superficial decoration to hide the fact that it is junk. So set your aesthetic preferences aside and think rationally about the real gaming merits of the product.

Not Everything Needs the “Gamer” Treatment

So here’s a little fact that might surprise you. My gaming PC has plenty of parts that are not explicitly marketed towards gamers. For example, right now I’m using a wireless Logitech mouse and keyboard set meant for mid- to high-end office work. Since I write for a living and don’t have space for two separate keyboards on my desk, I compromised. In practice, this keyboard and mouse pairing works just fine for gaming. I’m sure if I was into online multiplayer it could be an issue, but tootling around Skyrim or playing through single-player FPS games, I never feel the need for more.

The same goes for my current monitor. It’s a 75Hz Freesync IPS ultrawide panel that does duty both as a productivity tool and gaming peripheral. I need that color accuracy over the high refresh rates gaming TN panels produce, so I have to live with “only” 75Hz. In practice, that’s already an amazing experience, and limiting myself to 60 or 75 FPS means I can crank up the eye candy in exchange.

Although these products are not explicitly labeled as gamer products, they did the job I needed them to do. The price, quality, and performance was what I needed as a gamer. So I made the call.

Avoid Dumb Gamer Product Tax

There’s a certain point where gamer products just become an insult to us as consumers. When a company takes an old product and rebrands it to appeal to gamers, that’s one example. A worse example is when they take mundane products like tinted glasses or wrist support gloves and tell us these are a must-have for gamers to compete. Further down the rabbit hole of idiocy we have things like gamer energy drinks. Honestly, it’s just an energy drink. Putting the word “gamer” on the label does nothing except make you pay more for something you probably should not drink under any circumstances.

Enjoy that Gamer Life

Being a gamer is a wonderful hobby and you should never be ashamed of doing what you love. Then again, it’s no fun to be mocked AND robbed of your hard-earned cash by dweebs who think you’re stupid. So apply a modicum of critical thinking when looking at all the shiny gamer products being pushed on us, and send a message to those scamming opportunists that gamers don’t buy junk – even if you put all of the RGB on it.