Behold, the Azeron gaming keypad (opens in new tab). Okay, so its a little creepy looking, but this odd little thing isn't some kind of mechanical, voodoo monkey hand. It's actually a pretty convenient piece of gaming hardware that is just begging to be partnered up with your gaming mouse (opens in new tab).
The Azeron was originally conceived by Imants in 2012, in an attempt to solve his issue that a keyboard and mouse combo didn't quite cut it for the new Guild Wars 2 (opens in new tab).
In general, the idea was to create a fully customisable device to map your endless MMO interactions to. If the buttons on your mouse and keyboard aren't cutting it, this lets you have all your movement, skills, and whatever else you need, but lets your palm stay fixed in one place. No more slipping out of alignment and accidentally spamming the wrong spell.
It started out as this wood-carved, steampunk looking contraption, with stiff-ass, red buttons, and ergonomics only fit for its designer. It's still pretty cool looking, right? It's clear to see how far it's come since its original conception.
The device has been through countless iterations, with improvements to durability, functionality, ergonomics and customisation. There are now countless colour-ways, too. Even some limited edition runs, including a Christmas one.
The final, full design features "26 programmable keys, 5-way directional switch and an analog stick." You also get two pre-programmed, on-board profiles built into the device by default, with a quick switch on the side to move between game types.
There are honestly few mice that could contend with this kind of convenience. Even with something like the Razer Naga Pro gaming mouse, which is great for MMOs, you still have to search across the 12 button mass on the side with just your thumb. The Azeron just takes it to a whole new level, giving each finger easy access to several Omron switches, way more than something like the Razer Tartarus (opens in new tab).
I'm not sure exactly how easy it would be to keep my arm in one place for so long while gaming, but when we get hold of one for testing, I'll let you know how that goes. The bespoke Latvian controllers have been around for only around 18 months so far, but have grabbed a cult following. And the Azeron keypads are so visually arrested we had to talk about them.
An interview post on the Azeron blog (opens in new tab) details Imants' development journey, where he explains that "there would probably be no Azeron if I had not met my wife!" She was the one who taught him how to 3D model. In turn, he taught her how to kick ass on Guild Wars, and "the rest is history." Aww.
For more details, the project can be found outlined on the geekhack (opens in new tab) forums, in a post from 2017. If you want to grab one for yourself, they're on the Azeron store (opens in new tab) right now for around $180. Though there are some understandable shipping constraints right now, for obvious reasons.