Experienced Points

Experienced Points
The Reason You're (Not) A Console Gamer

Shamus Young | 20 Jul 2015 19:00
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Yes, we're talking about PC vs. consoles again. But wait! Before you hit the back button, let me point out that we're not having THAT discussion again. We're actually having a discussion about why THAT discussion is so often a dead end.

We're still early in a new console generation, which means the old PC vs. console debate has flared up again, like it always does. Fanboy chest-thumping aside, there's nothing inherently wrong with comparing the merits of various gaming platforms. This stuff shapes our gaming habits, the products we buy, what games get made, and how they're marketed. So debating gaming platforms in just as valid as (say) arguing the merits of real-time versus turn-based combat.

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But it's also true that the old PC vs. console debate often ends up in the exact same rut, with the same points being made again and again:

A gaming PC costs more than a console.

Ah, but console games cost more than PC games, so you pay more in the long run.

Consoles get more platform exclusives!

PCs have more indie titles! More framerate! Modding! Steam sales!

They also have more bugs! More DRM! Awful ports!

A mouse is better for aiming and menus!

A controller is better for everything else!

And so on. You get the idea. Sometimes the points are made in a different order, and sometimes you get sidetracked in a discussion on backwards compatibility and the merits of various controller gimmicks, but it's basically the same thing every time.

The thing that bugs me about this is how most of these reasons have nothing to do with what pushed you into one sort of gaming over the other. It paints this picture of a person who owns no devices and who has never played a videogame, but then they run through the above list of pros and cons to select which way they're going to go. In reality, our platform choices are often shaped by a lot of external forces that have nothing to do with the merits of the individual devices. Instead it's shaped by stuff like...

What's your furniture like?

I have a friend who doesn't really play videogames. His kids use the family television for watching movies all day. He has a PC, but it's stuck in a narrow dead-end space. It's sitting on top of a writing desk, there's no keyboard drawer, the lighting is awful, and the seat is a standard four-legged kitchen chair. The whole setup looks about as ergonomic as a studded bicycle seat. I imagine he just uses it for email and Facebook and such, and he probably doesn't use it for long stretches at a time.

Sure, a gaming PC and a console might be roughly in the same ballpark, price-wise. But he would need to buy hundreds of dollars of furniture to create a setup that could actually support a proper PC gaming session. If he decided to get into games, getting a console would be the path of least resistance.

You can easily imagine someone with the opposite setup: Maybe they have wonderful computer desk for their home office, but their television is small and the couch isn't nearly as comfortable as their computer chair.

In both cases, you'd have people choosing their gaming platform based on their furniture. And I don't think these kinds of situations are all that rare.

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