Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
The Trials and Perils of Returning to PC

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 10 Dec 2013 16:00
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People tell me I've been too much of a PC gaming cheerleader since the new console generation started. Fair enough. In the time since I got my new Alienware I've been swiftly reminded of the reasons I turned away from PC gaming in the first place. For example, there's the technical complications. I reinstalled Bioshock on a whim, and found that the sound didn't work until I did some messing about in the control panel. And then there's the fact that every time I mention that I got an Alienware, all the smug eye-rolling schoolyard elitist tossers burst from the woodwork to patronize me about it. Shut the fuck up. It plays the games I want it to play, it doesn't sound like a jet engine's flying past and I can write the cost off on my tax return. Beyond that I couldn't give a fish finger.

The irony in the term 'PC Gaming Master Race' still stands, and I don't want anyone to think I buy into the ridiculous cliqueism that gaming platforms engender, stating that you must side with one and automatically oppose the alternatives, or conversely that if you find fault in one you are automatically a rabid exponent of the other. I'm still getting the next-gen consoles, partly because it's my job, but partly because I need to at least give it all a chance to persuade me that this generation benefits the consumer in any way, not just the publishers.

And believe me when I say that nothing would give me greater pleasure, but frankly I don't see how they could do it. I've resolved to focus more on the PC because there is no longer any rational reason to use a console instead. Over the last thirty years, every single thing that consoles did better than PCs, or merely differently to PCs to appeal to a different market, has been thrown away, one after another.

When gaming was in its infancy, PCs and consoles occupied opposing ends of the spectrum. PCs were more about adventure games, strategy games, simulators and the like. Appealing to the older crowd with the necessary level of computer literacy, focussing on more thoughtful aspects like writing and preparing for the challenges ahead. Consoles, meanwhile, were the children of arcade gaming and offered quick, gameplay-focussed adrenaline challenges that generally appealed more to the young. And this was all fine. Neither was better than the other, they just appealed to different audiences. Console gamers didn't want to have to faff about with installation, boot disks, operating systems and the like. The inability to write documents or hack into classified missile defence systems was an acceptable loss if it meant they could just switch on and start playing.

But now, I get my Xbone set up, put a game disk in, and could find myself waiting anything up to an hour before reaching the point where I am in the game and moving the little man around with the controller. The amount of time between console switched on and moving the little man around would embarrass my old Commodore 64. So that's one traditional benefit of console gaming out the window.

It takes a while to get a game going on a PC, too, but for one thing, PC gaming has never claimed to be expedient, and for another, there are a lot of other things a PC can do. I can do a bit of work or watch Youtube videos while I wait. In fact, since I got my new PC, I find I've been playing games I'm not reviewing a hell of a lot more, just because I'm not put off by the arduous process of getting up, picking a disc, switching the console on etc. I can just stop working, alt-tab over to Steam, grab my USB controller and be gaming in seconds. I installed Just Cause 2 this week 'cos it was $2.50 on the Steam sales, and it's become my little pre-bedtime treat after I'm done writing for the day.

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