I often find myself rummaging through the store section of high-end PC websites, like a pre-tween runs his wide eyes over the Nerf gun section of the Argos catalogue, picking all the best and shiniest components as if in some nerd’s version of a Build-a-Bear Workshop, and then looking at the gargantuan price tag at the end of it, thinking ‘one day… one day’.
But only recently I stopped myself. Only recently I stopped myself and thought ‘what if I don’t need this?’. In fact, those thoughts have long since subsided and declined into ‘why does anyone need this?’. It’s an interesting discussion that I don’t see anyone, especially the PC community partaking in.
Let’s back up… first off, I don’t hate or even think less of anyone who chooses to own hardware capable of providing them the best gaming experience on the market, I’m actually super duper jealous. I always have been and probably always will be a mainly console gamer, although I run PC only games like Garry’s Mod and Minecraft on my technically skinny laptop. I’m definitely not opposed to PC gaming. Speaking from experience, honestly, everything about PC gaming feels better to play. The framerate feels like butter on toast compared to console, the option of modding in itself is reason enough to hurl wads of cash at the PC gaming market, the perennial world of tweaks and support that the fellow PC gaming community is always giving you… it’s stuff console gamers would adore for their systems. And that’s coming from a console gamer.
But the insistence from a very loud and obnoxious vocal minority of the PC community, insistence that PC gaming is the one and only path leading to gaming’s future, that the leap from console to PC is similar to that of Homo Erectus to Homo Sapiens, is absurd.
I am inclined to agree with people who claim that PC gaming is extravagant. It’s hedonist. It’s excessive. I don’t mind if the notion of throwing heaps of cash onto a machine that will lose its trendiness within the year of purchase doesn’t offend you. But to most, it definitely would. In the time of writing this, the cheapest desktop PC I could find on chillblast.com was £87.01 more expensive than the current retail price of a ps3 on Amazon, and the most expensive was £18,227.98 more expensive. Again, if you’ve got the money, I don’t care.
But someone who isn’t willing to fork out as much cash as you are for mostly the same experience isn’t obsolete. I was recently listening to the Co-Optional podcast, and I heard TotalBiscuit say that he wouldn’t play a certain game if it ran at 30fps. I tried to find an exact reference to that, but in doing so I found quite an interesting twitter thread that better represents what I’m trying to say:
Don’t get me wrong, I like TotalBiscuit. I don’t watch his content a lot anymore because, as mentioned, I’m not a PC gamer, but I listen to his podcast and I can tell he is a very clever man and I agree with his stance social justice gaming sites like Polygon. However, I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. Saying that a gaming experience is worse because of the framerate can be very very silly. For most of the years in which I played my ps3, I ran it on a 480p TV that was as fat as a jacked up cow. The ability to appreciate the heart-wrenching moments from The Walking Dead was in no way diminished by how many frames per second it ran at. Gliding through Arkham City was in no way worse because I didn’t have a high-quality texture cape. Flippantly shrugging off the gigantic selection of games that don’t run at expensive speeds indicates that you care more about the the superficial qualities of the game rather than the ideas and the experience. You’re perfectly entitled to think like that, but I definitely don’t agree with it.
Besides which, this is ignoring the fact that gaming should be able to be a social experience. Sitting on the sofa challenging two friends to a heated and intense game of FIFA is what some would call the quintessential gaming experience. No one wants to sit around a 15 inch laptop screen with two keyboards and two mice sitting barely animated as you monotonously click your way to victory. Split screen is something wonderful, and sitting on the couch playing FIFA with your friends will never go out of style. Gaming should be able to be about hitting your friends when they score against you, it should be able to be about making frustrated Italian hand-gestures at the screen, it should be able to be about throwing the controllers. Nothing is ever going to take these things out of style.
Everyone likes films. A lot of people have Netflix. Not everyone owns a fully functional home cinema with 4K digital tv screens and optimised Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Not everyone needs that. No one needs that. There is a huge, huge future for PC gaming, it’s objectively the best way to game, not considering the gigantic price tags, but saying that it will render consoles redundant? Absolutely not.