In the summer of 2020, like many others who were forced to work from home, I started delving into desk setups to improve my productivity. It was at this period of time where I was introduced to the keyboard community and fell in love with it.
I dabbled in an array of sites to expand my knowledge about keyboards: The Mechanical Keyboards community on Reddit, currently with 782,000 subscribers, refreshes regularly with new content, Deskthority, and Geekhack which provide specialized help for keyboard enthusiasts, and last but not least, I spent the bulk of my non-working hours watching Youtubers customizing keyboards one after another (Ps: My favorites include TaehaTypes, :3ildcat and SquashyBoy).
Just like other enthusiasts, I was often enticed to get the latest switches, keycaps, and builds, right after watching a mere short clip of it by a Youtuber or a Twitch Streamer. While grappling with my constant urge of purchasing a new keyboard or a new switch, I started pondering about the influence of popular YouTubers and Twitch Streamers on the keyboard community.
Streamers like LilyPichu (owns a custom keyboard made by Taeha), Pokimane (advocate for HyperX keyboard and setup), Loltyler1 (owns a Razer keyboard) and Dr Disrespect (owns a ROCCAT Vulcan keyboard) each has their own preference in the types of keyboards they own, the switch types, and keycap profiles, and hardcore fans of each yearn to own the same build. As popular Streamers transition into ‘influencers’, the impact of their choices of keyboards generates ripple effects, foreshadowing the future of the keyboard community.
While navigating the keyboard threads on Reddit, the term ‘overhyped’ pops up periodically, with mentions of certain switches that are not up to expectations, despite its popularity. One that comes into mind is the NovelKeys Cream Switches (NK Creams), a highly raved-about switch by fellow Redditors. An article by The Verge details the $3,500 custom build (with NK Creams) by TaehaTypes and Keycult for the popular Fornite streamer Tfue.
Despite the high price tag on the 60% sized keyboard, fans of Tfue (one of the world’s most popular Twitch streamer and Fortnite player) were excited over the idea of NK Creams, boosting its popularity.
Following the release of the article by The Verge and Taeha’s YouTube video regarding the keyboard, the NK Creams were sold out almost immediately and began to sell at double its initial price per switch. Contrary to expectations, the NK Creams, which was marketed to be self-lubricating, faced backlash over its quality. (The detailed breakdown of the switch’s performance can be read here, written by a fellow hobbyist) Some commentators even took to Reddit to voice their opinions regarding the ‘overpriced’ keyboard.
Another case of an ‘overhyped switch’ is that of the Holy Pandas by Drop, where a video of a typing test made by Taeha Types is known to have increased the demand for the switch.
The Holy Pandas are known to provide a very different experience for users as compared to the typical line of Cherry MX switches. However, reviews have cited the factory-lubing of the switches to be sloppy and inconsistent, which was not the expected quality given the high price charged per switch. A detailed review of the Holy Pandas can be viewed here.
Having observed the monumental influence of Streamers on the keyboard community, one can make his/her own decision of whether to blindly follow the ‘smitten’ crowd or to set out on unchartered territory and support fellow hobbyist inventions, sparking new waves of revolutionary keyboards.
While the keyboard community will likely remain as a niche, there is no doubt the growing esports landscape and the recent pandemic will rope more hobbyists down the rabbithole. We will only be spending more and more time in front of our computers.
In the past, our handwriting were our expressions of individuality. Going forward, the switch from pen and paper to the keyboard seems inevitable. As our desk setups (or battlestations as gamers would have it) grow increasingly elaborate, so will our expectations of our keyboards. The keyboard industry brings exciting new developments each day, and I cannot wait to see what the future would bring.
- By Annora Ng, Wraek Marketing Specialist
Wraek is a gaming hardware and software start-up that strives to build a strong gamer community. Wraek is currently focusing on designing an innovative gaming keyboard with additional features to make the gaming experience more immersive.
“Release the gamer within.”
This one sentence sums the ultimate goal of Wraek: Revolutionizing gaming experiences.