I’m a simple man. I prefer to keep things as effortless and manageable as possible. I don’t need much, and I don’t ask for much either. Comfort has always been my top priority.
I’ve carried this philosophy over with me to the world of gaming for almost fifteen years now. As you might expect, that means I’ve primarily been a console gamer for my entire game-playing existence.
I started out with the likes of Donkey Kong Country and Final Fantasy VI (or III, whatever) on the Super Nintendo, my four-year-old little hands capable enough to comprehend the simple button inputs and controller-to-TV setup. The Nintendo 64 brought Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and WWF No Mercy. The PlayStation gave me Ape Escape and Metal Gear Solid. The PS2, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Shadow of the Colossus. The Dreamcast, Shenmue and Crazy Taxi. On and on it would go, and on and on I would buy, enjoying the simplicity and gradual technical advancements as each system trotted out, rose, and fell.
Something’s changed. The comfortable console cycles of the past few decades have grown increasingly stale to me these days. The big games have grown more uniform, the gimmicky peripherals have needlessly expanded, and the overall luster of yesteryear has largely faded. It’s getting too comfortable. I’m getting bored.
As I wait for this prolonged generation to die its slow death, and as I continue to be uncertain or, in some cases, unimpressed by what future consoles may bring, I find myself with an urge to expand, to undertake a new venture, and to do something different.
I think I’m ready to be a PC gamer.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve played plenty of PC games over the years. Those have mostly been the big ones, though: the World of Warcrafts and Half-Life 2s of the world, alongside old classics like Deus Ex and The Sims. But my rig has always been poor, and as a result there’s been so much that I’ve missed out on. Today, I think I’m ready to make up for lost time.
I think it’s that pretense of “extra effort” that’s always turned me off. To me, it’s always seemed like becoming a PC gamer required that body-and-soul dedication that consoles just don’t require. There needs to be hours upon hours of meticulous research and careful preparation. What processor should I go for? What’s the difference between all these graphics cards? What if I end up having a system that can’t always play games at their highest quality? Would that even matter? What if I can’t transition smoothly to the mouse and keyboard setup? Do I really want to spend more time on the computer than I already do? Your body needs to be ready, in other words.
And so does your wallet. The common refrain has always been “PC gaming will save you money,” but the prospect of dropping around $1000 to put together a relatively future-proof rig certainly doesn’t make it seem that way. The potential for constant necessary upgrades to my computer’s specs only added to that fear.
But once I take a step back, I realize it’s time to take the plunge. PC game sales are abundant all over the Internet, and since the price of a standard PC game is still $10 cheaper than your average console game, that massive short-term investment may just be worth it. It’s not like there’ll be any subscription fees or yearly “premium service” payments anyway. I see user loyalty to places like Steam and GOG that’s off-the-charts positive, and then I wonder why the same doesn’t apply those who use the PlayStation Store or Xbox Marketplace. I want to find out why this is for myself.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been researching how to build my own personal powerhouse. It’s gotten addicting. As I continue to swim in a sea of letters, numbers, and technical specifications, I find myself learning about a section of the gaming realm I should’ve gotten to know better long ago. I feel like I’m consuming new information at a rapid pace. It’s exciting to get on a new level of comprehension.
More than anything else, though, I’m ready for the games. My PS3 and 360 have served me well this generation, but I think I’m ready to dump cover shooters, derivative platformers, and more cover shooters. A few years back I should’ve been playing Minecraft, Braid, and StarCraft 2. Today I should be hooked on Guild Wars 2, FTL, and Hotline Miami. There’s a variety of quality and honest-to-goodness original titles out there, both AAA and independent, that are just waiting to be played. As someone who calls himself a “gamer,” I just can’t justify ignoring this interactive feast any longer.
I also can’t ignore the future. When I look at the PC gaming landscape, I see a continued mixture of technical prowess, continued creativity, and, in a strange twist of fate, comforting stability. There’s a reason industry authorities like Cliff Bleszinski say things such as “Next-gen is here. It’s a high-end PC,” after all.
Consoles are changing. I’m not being an industry sage when I predict that the Wii U, PS4, and next Xbox will continue to not be entirely focused on games; they’ll be entertainment hubs, just as worried about your TV viewing and Internet browsing habits as they are about your headshot and melee skills.
With PCs, though, they’ll always be that relative sense of familiarity. They’ve been playing the same way for years now, only getting more and more advanced along the way. In a weird way, PCs now look to be the system of choice for “simple men” like me.
Maybe this shift has been brewing for a while. Maybe I just need a new “comfort,” a new place to call home. Maybe. I don’t know yet. I’m just going to give it a try.
Date: November 2, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*