When a game asks you to 'Press Any Key,' which key do you press?

Press Any Key
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Many of us have been playing Microsoft Flight Simulator this week, looking for interesting places to visit, tweaking settings to improve our performance, and digging through menus to figure out how to turn on autopilot.

But we all start with the same first step: Microsoft Flight Simulator, in an ancient gaming tradition, begins by asking us to 'Press Any Key.'

So, when confronted with this choice, which key do you press? The space bar? Escape? Tab? Right Curly Bracket? Or are you a mouse-clicker?

Our answers our below, along with some from our forums. Let us know in the comments.

Dave James: When I see a game pop up with 'Press Any Key' I'm so paralyzed by choice that I fall like a fainting goat on top of my keyboard and faceroll it. So yeah, can't really tell you which key it is that actuates first for sure, but if I had to guess my stubby nose hitting either the 'N' or 'M' keys would likely register first.

James Davenport: I try to click only to see if it works. If it does, then the message is a lie and should have said "Press Anything". If it doesn't work, then I narrow my eyes and nod in assent.

Graeme Meredith: Slap that Space Bar into next week! No hesitation. No respect.

Alan Dexter: Yeah, agree with Graeme, you have to confidently bounce your thumb off the Space Bar like you own the place, otherwise the game will detect weakness and rip you apart.

Rachel Watts: I just go with the flow and press whatever I feel like in the moment. A lightning strike of a decision hits me and there's no going back. Could be the spacebar, maybe I hit enter, or I just slap my hand on the keyboard and let the fates decide.

Harry Shepard: Like Dave, I lack the emphatic confidence of Graeme and Alan: I'm mired in indecision each time I get the 'Press Any Key' prompt. There are so many keys to choose from, and some of the poor sods I've probably never pressed. I just feel a bit sorry for them by now; My WASD keys just look smug with heavy use next to the number pad no-hopers . Perhaps I should put together a spreadsheet for just these moments, to make sure none of my key friends feel left out.

I'm being facetious, of course: I just hit a random key.

Chris Livingston: I press Enter. I don't know why. Space and Shift are both closer and wider. I guess it makes me feel like I'm captain of my destiny. I'm not picking a card from a deck before some half-baked magic trick, I'm issuing a firm command! Enter! Enter, I say!

Also—why do we still need to press a key to start playing, anyway? We've obviously decided to play. Just take us to the game already. I don't have all day to be picking keys to press.

Press Any Key

(Image credit: Microsoft)

From our Forum

Drunkpunk: If it works, my mouse button, because it feels like a sort of rebellion. If that doesn't work, then escape, despite it being probably one of the less convenient keys.

DXCHASE: Space since my thumb is on it but i occasionally stretch for the enter key.

Pifanjr: It depends on whether I've already been repeatedly smashing a specific key to get through the splash screens and intro and such. A mouse click usually works, but some of them require the escape button specifically.

However, I think the last game I played that had one of these screens was Assassin's Creed: Rogue, which I played with an Xbox controller, so I used the A button.

Yargion: I usually try Ctrl, just to see if Any key is really Any. But if not, it is usually space.

Frindis: Enter key has been my go-to for as long as I have been playing games. At times the Enter key will not work and you have to use the mouse, E key, or some other fancy-schmancy combination. That is when my brain overloads and I start button smashing like a hippopotamus poked while eating.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.