265: Punching the Baby Seal of PC Gaming

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Well, you just have awful, awful luck. Only Fallout 3 has EVER given me any grief of any kind.

But yeah, every time I hear tales like this, my first reaction is to wonder how so much can go wrong.

I keep telling people, it's a gypsy curse. They don't just do wasting diseases and having people dragged off to hell, you know.

A mate of mine ran over a gypsy's dog and now he can't get mobile phone reception anywhere.


It's a shame these difficulties seem to get to you so badly. But remember what I wrote on building your PC: time spent building your own is time saved dealing with PC assembler (Dell) bullshit.

I don't want this to turn into an iWorld where everything is locked down, dumbed down and controlled for "our convenience". Look how Steve Jobs releases the iPad in competition with netbooks... only arbitrarily removes Flash support.

I know we don't sew out own clothes, but dammit what is stopping you? You could if you wanted to. Like I don't know, sew back on a button yourself rather than having to go to a tailor or buy a new one? Because ANYONE can sew a shirt, that allows a much more open and dynamic market. OK, this shirt-PC-gaming analogy is tortured enough.

I don't like console gaming because it is fundamentally bad for business. It is walled garden economics, it exploits the consumers and the developers in favour of the all powerful console seller who control the network and all the games on it and all the users too. It harms creativity and competition.

Anyway, forgot to say: great article. Very thought provoking, I don't find it offensive, though I still would like to understand more about WHY you get so angry at PC gaming in general because Games for Windows Live AGAIN screws you over. I mean what other things inspire such barely containable anger in you? I need a frame of reference because though you have described how your anger came about, things like that never get me that angry.

Thanks for the comment!

My anger is dialed up for purposes of humor (the week's issue is, of course, called COLD DARK HEART). But I do feel a sense of frustration that things don't necessarily work like they should -- whether it's the Dell, Fallout 3, video drivers, whatever. Something's falling down on the job, and I promise, it's not me. Despite the happy image of me wearing a football helmet and head-butting my PC while gumming up the vents with sticky jam-fingers, I'm not actually a moron. I just don't have the patience or time anymore to address this kind of technical snafu.

-- Chuck

this is exactly why i prefer console gaming. because you know that every game you buy will run on your console.

Personally I haven't had PC problems in many many years. I think most gamers problems are buying PCs that are mass produced, Dell for instance. I have a PC shop custom build me a system (good shops will most likely have a website were you can specify what you want easily) or do it myself so I can get that hands-on care in my product. Mine is almost a two year old pc that cost $700 after windows. If there is an issue, its only due to a piece of hardware failing (which just happens over time) which can be replaced without buying a new system (sometimes, if your motherboard goes you might as well buy new memory and cpu)

Love the angry style.
The Fallout 3 installation ordeal reminded me of similar experiences, and indeed with age they start getting very, very tedious.
Take, for example, games that use multiple content delivery platform (I.E both steam, and games for windows live, or an equivalent). They should at least carry a huge red sticker warning us about being extra annoying to install, as in "Caution! You might have to wait a few hours downloading a patch for another program, which will offer you no benefits whatsoever besides being able to eventually play this game".

Forgive my naivety, but Games are supposed to be about fun. If I wanted to waste my time feeling the frustration caused by ridiculous bureaucratic idiocy, I'll schedule an appointment with a local doctor

And, instead of a baby seal, may I offer punching the annoying "read the manual" folks instead? Then you can tell them to go read the manual about stitching facial lacerations.

Man, I remember having this argument with a friend who told me I should come back to PC gaming (last time I PC gamed was nearly ten years ago now, aside from Rome: Total War). He told me it wasn't as prohibitively expensive to game on a PC as it used to be, and everything was much easier to run.

And his only argument was 'yeah, but PC gaming is so much better!'

How exactly? I hate online play so I won't be using it for that, I don't want to spend hundreds of pounds updating my (brand new) hardware, and almost all of the games I want are avaiable for my HD XBox 360 with no extra installation time anyhow.

I like this article, it was very entertaining, and I stopped and thought about it.
My thoughts go out to you, I tend to have lots of crashing or, perhaps worse, subtle annoying things that are not game breaking at all but REALLY bug me. Like for instance, on any source game for both my laptop and desktop, I cannot save some setting changed. For example, setting sound mode to headphone. If I do it in a game, nothing happens. If I do it in a menu, it goes back to two speakers when I join a game. I have tried many solutions, it never goes away.
ANYWAY, back on topic. Wonderful article. I too, am looking forwards to Civilization Hexagons. I mean Civ V.

I bought a 360 and moved away from PC gaming after being a self identified PC gamer all my life. Then, a little before Dragon Age was released, I wondered if maybe I shouldn't get it for PC... I mean, it was "that type of game", right? Tycho posted a link in one of his news posts to a character builder that had been released before the game, and I happily downloaded it and installed it. Then it crashed my laptop. Oh, that's right... now I remember why I hate PC gaming.

My 360 version never crashed once, by the way.

Fallout 3 you need to install a couple user-made mods to get it to actually run. It would also help if you removed GFWL from the game, since GFWL causes its fair share of problems as well.

Yeah, PC gaming is a pain in the ass sometimes. It also doesn't help that publishers and developers are making things worse with shitty ports and stupid-ass DRM schemes. Which I wouldn't be surprised if those caused at least half the problems...

Anger tends to be ignorant of logic. The elitist computer perps need to calm down.

I use a pre-built computer - gateway dx4200-9 - which works fine. There are times that I want to buy and built a new computer but I don't have the time to do that. I'm fairly sure I can do it. I have upgraded a few things but I just don't have the time to familiarize myself with all the different terms and building designs to make buying hardware as easy as 20 seconds to 2 hours a day. It would be more like an year at this point.

For example:
Why would a negative pressure system for an air build have a problem with dust? Wouldn't micronic air filters and flapper check valves catch all the dust trying to enter system? Especially if you took the time to seal off all the tiny little holes and cracks in your system?

How come we don't just build refrigerators around our gaming computers?

I know of servers banks that are immersed in cooling non-conductive liquid which is then sent to air/liquid heat exchanger to transfer the heat... are those better than the mess of adding piped liquid cooling?

How much that thermal paste should I use? What happens if I use too much or too little?

Would your air cooled system be cooler if you just took two big fans and placed them on both sidewalls?
One blowing air while the other sucks it out.

Why is Geforce coding their PhysX drivers in a way so that it fucks with people that got Radeon hardware? Does anyone know their company head's home phone so I can ask him why he is being such a douche?

Whenever I see a written-piece on how many awful experiences people have gaming on their PCs, I but the blame squarely on them.

I have been PC gaming for 10 years. In that time I've had one hard drive die on me. That's one major problem. No game has caused my computer to spontaneously combust, or has crashed so many times it's unplayable, or ever presented a problem - should one occasionally arise - that I could not fix with a bit of time and use of Google.

If it doesn't work, chances are it's your fault.

Och, Mr. Wendig. Your rant is... understandable. PC gaming is often abominably esoteric - but I wouldn't have it any other way. Using a computer to game seriously is like belonging to an exclusive club - few can enter and be masters, but those who do receive great rewards and are invariably more skilled than the proles who can only dream of being half as proficient. Patience is a necessary attribute - [i]infinite[i/] patience. But believe me when I say that PC gamers are [i]real[i/] gamers - in both skill and devotion. For example, not even the most skilled Halo players could hold their own against the god gamers of Counterstrike - who have perfected their skills over years of matches.

Wow, some people really aren't getting this article are they? Comedy, guys, comm-uh?-dee. Exaggerating a fairly regular complaint for the sake of laughter, with a possible side-effect of providing social commentary? Anyone?

I really liked it, the pathos especially- what the PC fanboys aren't seeing is that Chuck is one of them. Against all his better judgement, all his common sense, against his instinct for self-preservation (let alone seal preservation) he will return to PC gaming. If that's not dedication, affection, motivation, then what the hell is? Only a true interest in something can inspire such vitriol. Me, I couldn't give a shit about overclocking (whatever the hell that is), how clean my freaking drives are (seriously?), and all that jazz because when it comes to PC gaming I'm the one with the COLD DARK HEART. I'm sorry Chuck, but you're in love!



I cannot imagine if *any other technology* required this level of attention in this day and age.

Oh you'd be suprised heavily. Try pro grade photography for example, where ridiculously expensive gear gives up on you regularly no matter which brand you choose. You have to personally pick up one lens that works good with YOUR dslr body (other six on the same shelf might be getting slightly out of focus for example), when you choose the right one you have to return it a month later because it refuses to work. Sometimes without a reason and sometimes from a 15 cm drop on your matrass (true story). You need to gather epic amounts of knowledge, patience and expertise. You cannot simply expect something to work "just because" you've paid a few thousand dollars for it.

And them cars keep breaking as well, your brand new washing machine burns holes in your new pants despite setting a proper program (true story as well). My phone keeps acting stupid. My mp3 player had to be formatted out of the blue. A screw falls of a 400$ pocket knife. 100$ sunglasses get weird cracks all over their lenses while lying on a desk. All true cases proving that these are trying times and everything is manufactured in "buy it and fuck off" fashion, not only PC games. Ever heard about them legendary console crashes making them bricks?

Yep, back in the day things seemed to work better. Only my g-shock watches endure (a Luminox died on me after 5 months of mild use).

But I still play on my PC, I simply cannot imagine gaming without a mouse and a keyboard.

All gaming platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Sure the open-ended hardware and software environment of PC gaming makes it harder for engineers to adapt a game to the specific needs of any given system, but I'll gladly take that liabilty to have an alternative to the mass market, "one-size-fits-all" approach of most console developers. Console games may be more reliable but they're also more homogenized.

I sympathize with the problems people have getting PC games to function but I've been playing PC games for over twenty years now and have yet to experience anything like the frustrating obstacles that some critics of PC gaming seem to encounter. Maybe I've just been lucky, or maybe I'm just more attentive to details. I wouldn't presume to tell anyone else that it's worth the extra effort for them to get into PC gaming, but for me and millions of other gamers, it absolutely is.

Getting GTA4 Lost & Damned working properly on my PC from the last Steam sale was really infuriating. Mostly due to GfWL but also due to the stupidly long load times and problems configuring the game for performance. The end result was an experience much better than I could of had on consoles so I'm not too bitter about it.

Most games, I don't really have many problems with. Crashes are pretty rare these days with a few exceptions for badly coded games, of which Crysis might be one, but since I don't like that sort of game I wouldn't know. It's not the wild west days of DOS and Windows 9x any more.

While I fully agree that PC Gaming can be a pain in the arse (I'm currently sat with a 7 inch fan freezing my feet to stop my power supply overheating) its worth it because it has the best community. Everyone who sticks with PC gaming seems to develop a bit of a bunker mentality of "We're all in this shit together so lets help each other out" which you don't really see in console communities. I personally am more then happy to debug and troubleshoot my mates PCs and there are lots of things online to help people made by the fans for free. The other week I decided to play Theme Hospital again, but it wouldn't work on my version of Windows. I looked online and within the 1st 5 google links I found a fan made patch with simple to follow instructions. I suppose needing the patience of a saint whenever you try and install a new game helps to bring out the helpful and positive side in people

You shouldn't even be playing PC games if you don't want to put work into it.

But I want to play a GAME and have FUN, not do WORK. Do you see the difference there?

When you do everything correctly (updated drivers, spyware/virus free, well above minimum specs) and the game still doesn't work? Give me my money back. I'll go do something that is fun, not spend my minimal free time trying to troubleshoot a game that probably will end up pissing me off anyway.

That being said...

The Knights of the Old Republic MMO will probably suck me back in. Bastards.

generic gamer:
I've got all those games and none of those crashes, is your hardware maybe a bit old?

Also I didn't like this article very much purely because of the tone. This isn't what I come here to read, it wasn't smart and it wasn't informative. I know it was supposed to be a humorous look at the problem but honestly it comes across as not wanting to do any maintenance work and getting annoyed when it breaks. If you had a console that could play every game ever made you'd expect a certain amount of tinkering too.

If a user puts up such a thread/post he could get ban-hammered(has happened before)...

I haven't had any problems with the games he mentioned exept Crysis, becaue it wont run (smoothly), so I don't even think about installing
I simply keep my drivers up-to-date, defrag my HD's every week and don't install malware...
Consider this before punching a baby seal. ;-)

YEAH! Get out and stay out! We don't want your kind round here!

Dirty consoler.

Understandable. Though, if you knew the complexity of electronic devices, you wouldn't whine as much. If you know, you don't understand it then.

Been at such frustration myself.

Heres some ice for you vagina OP, and a copy of Steel Magnolias so you can have a good cry the next time you can't get a PC game to run. Your main problem is that you bought a stock desktop because you obviously lack the basic cognitive and motor functions required to build and excellent gaming rig for half the price you paid for that abomination that is the Dell XPS you bought.

And some people say PC gamers are elitist and condescending! Bosh! Flimshaw!

I gave up PC gameing a long time ago. Most of the time games wouldn't work, or they would work for a little while but then crash later. I'm sticking with the PS3. It only crashes when it overheats and I keep a fan on it so that rarely happens.

I don't understand what is trying to be said here. Can someone help me out? To me it just seems like someone is bitching about how their computer sucks. I am most likely wrong considering I only skimmed the first 3 pages.

Great article Chuck. I know exactly where you'r coming from. I don't tend to have too many issures with mty computer gaming (what little I do) but every time a game acts up on me, a little part of me dies. I have all the current consoles, and aside from the occasional hardware issue (on my 360) or poorly considered 20-minute manditory install (on my PS3) everything I try to play on them works, problem free. So every time something (inevitably) goes wrong on my desktop, I have to ask myself why I'm trying to play it. I'm less comfortable at my PC desk, the screen is smaller, I don't have a surround sound system on my computer, does the game I'm trying to play really warrant the extra effort involved in playing it?

Unfortunately for my sanity (and yours, evidently) the answer is usually, "yes".

Just rest assured, you're not alone.
(in fact, I'd go so far to say that anyone claiming to have "never had problems" with PC games is lying - straight up. They may not have considered their problems to be deal-breakers, but no one PC games without an occasional hardware or driver conflict, or device incompatibility. It just doesn't happen.)


I don't understand what is trying to be said here. Can someone help me out? To me it just seems like someone is bitching about how their computer sucks. I am most likely wrong considering I only skimmed the first 3 pages.

you're wrong. Try reading the whole column.


Console games are substantially easier to work with. No installation (no mandatory installation), no graphical settings forever put on low and off, and much less expensive - PC games may be cheaper but the rigs required to play them most definitely aren't.

-And yes, I also play PC games. I've got garry's mod running in the background as I write this. I play both, but always have an easier time on the console.

Meh good riddance. You sound like a rage quitter anyways.

This is why my experience with PC gaming is casual.

I like Consoles because they are simple. Call me an idiot, I dont WANT to learn all the secrets to making a computer. I want to fire my computer up, and do research, entertain myself, etc.

I do like that PC gaming can make beautiful graphics, mods, and controls. But its not worth the hardship Ive endured trying to play MANY of the games I bought. Most of them have me saying "Fuck it", and just playing something on my Xbox.

I dabble into PC Gaming. Team Fortress 2, Halo PC, WoW (I can even run Dalaran!) but thats it. If I want to game, I fire up my console. My PC can run what I want it to, and thats good enough. No Crysis? Ill live.

Steve Butts:
Maybe I've just been lucky, or maybe I'm just more attentive to details. I wouldn't presume to tell anyone else that it's worth the extra effort for them to get into PC gaming, but for me and millions of other gamers, it absolutely is.

No, we PC gamers are just in denial, crying while we masturbate to benchmark tests of the latest GPU cards.

Or maybe that's just me.

While I was growing up my mother would never buy me a game console, but would let me have any PC game I wanted. She believed that if all I could play were PC games I would learn a ton about computers just trying to make the games work.

She was right.

P.S.: Chuck, Hunter is awesome, Null Mysteriis forever.



Chuck Wendig:

I'm sorry, but all I read here was 'I'm incompetent at administering my computer' repeated for four pages. Maybe if you didn't buy fucking pre-built Dell computers and actually took and interest in what you are playing your games on you wouldn't have any problems, but since you're the kind of person that bought an iPhone I can see that knowing about how things work really isn't something you're interested in.

Man, I know. Sometimes I stick gum in the DVD drives. Other times I just sort of take off my pants and hump it? Then I get these great pop-up windows and they're in Chinese and Russian, and I click 'em for hours -- it's a fun game! It installs all this crazy software on my computer. Then my monitor catches fire. I use the fire extinguisher on it.

Lather, rinse, repeat!

You mean I'm doing something wrong?

-- Chuck

Excellent article, it`s written so well that PC enthusiast`s are blinded by it and can`t read past page 2.

I`m in full support, I`d be playing on PC`s if it was all plain sailing.

Heres some ice for you vagina OP, and a copy of Steel Magnolias so you can have a good cry the next time you can't get a PC game to run. Your main problem is that you bought a stock desktop because you obviously lack the basic cognitive and motor functions required to build and excellent gaming rig for half the price you paid for that abomination that is the Dell XPS you bought.

PC gaming is serious business, I hear.

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