The Needles

The Needles
Progress and Upgrades

Andy Chalk | 11 Sep 2007 21:00
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A little Big Daddy is sitting on my shelf, looking out at me from its cellophane prison with a disturbing deca-ocular stare. I'm not letting him out until I can play his game, and I won't be able to play his game until I spring for a new video card, so he may be stuck in there for a good while yet. It's difficult to read much emotion in the creature's caged and armor-plated face, but I imagine he's gazing at me with no small amount of impatience, perhaps tinged with bewilderment. No doubt his imaginary little mutant brain is occupied with thoughts like, "What the hell's going on over there? Why am I still in this stupid box?" Or, as the pasty-faced kid at EB who has no idea just how perilously close he came to getting the Big Daddy treatment himself said to me, "Shoulda bought an Xbox."

Maybe he has a point. As the games become more important and the hardware less so, maybe the simplest path to Rapture really is the best one. If I'd just stop worrying and learn to love the Box, the little big guy could finally be set free and I'd get to see first-hand what all the hullabaloo is about. It certainly makes sense. So why do I, and the PC crowd at large, struggle against it? Why not just get in line like everyone else? If there's a convenient and popular and less-expensive way to get some game on, why not take it?

I can think of only one reason: We like it. We like the feeling of standing firm in the face of worsening odds. We like the smug self-satisfaction we get from the knowledge that no matter how many buttons are added to the standard game controller, we'll always have more. We're fighting the good fight here. It may not make much sense, but maybe that's because the ugly truth is that there's not much sense to make of it beyond the fact that being an avid PC gamer means being a little bit of a masochist, too. For us, in some warped little place in the backwoods of our minds, losing is winning.

Which isn't to say we wouldn't rather see the trend reversed. A PC renaissance would be a wonderful thing, especially if it came at the expense of the consoles. We'd laugh and celebrate and stick our fingers in the faces of the button-mashers while bellowing forth Nelson-esque cries of "HA HA!" and most of us would probably turn out to be far worse winners than we are losers. But until that magic day arrives, in spite of all the noise we make to the contrary, things are really OK the way they are. We can adjust to growing system requirements; we can lay down the coin for upgrades we need even if we aren't convinced we really need them; we can take our lumps as they come. We've done this before, and we'll do it again. We're a little crazy that way.

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