The World According to John

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why I switched to consoles from PC’s

I am a video game-aholic. I’ve been addicted since the early 70’s (the first time I played pong on a friends TV). Growing up with this addiction has exposed me to most video games platforms ever marketed. From the first home pong systems and countless hours lost in smoky video arcades to home consoles like the Atari 2600, Maxnavox Odyssey2, Intellivision and the 1st Nentindo NES on and on up through the current cluster of GameCube, Playstation2, Xbox, Xavix Port and the even newer Xbox360 and Wii systems. Throw into this mix Gameboy Advance SP, building my own Arcade cabinets and purchasing a ton of those TV plug and play $20 joystick thingy’s.

In 1985 I purchased my fist computer Commodore 64 computer system and decided then and there that computer gaming was where it was at. I moved to the PC platform (386) after some time working as a computer repairman in 1992. I’ve been a strong PC gamer throughout the birth of games with more than 4 colors, 5.25” to 3.5” floppies, Hard drives, CD Rom Drives, the birth and explosion of shareware companies (ID, Apogee, Epic, 3D realms), FMV, 3D graphics, FPS, RTS, network multiplayer, the internet and MMO’s. I loved my computer games, but throughout this experience I had many challenges, operating systems changing, hardware requirements changing, driver updates, game patching, firmware upgrades etc… with each new iteration of my PC, older games were being lost because the newer hardware/software platforms no longer supported them. My shelves were growing heavy with games I never had the time to finish before a newer game forced an upgrade making the older game obsolete. If I got nostalgic I would feverishly search for a patch or even go as far as building an older system just to play it on. Needless to say this was becoming very expensive.

Going through all of this, I finally realized that I was spending more time (and money) tweaking my PC to actually run and install these games than I was spending playing them… This made me a pretty good PC support guy but I was missing out on all of the fun inside these games. Over time and after having kids, my free time became very limited and if I got two hours once a week to play a game, I didn’t want to spend 1.5 hours of that just installing/upgrading and tweaking my system. I also noticed that many of the newer games also game out on console platforms at the exact time as the PC release.

Once I put two and two together, I decided that consoles gave me the same fun experience without 99% of the aggravation. I am now actually finishing games. They boot up in moments, play just and smooth (if not better) than their PC counterparts since all consoles are the same hardware, the programmers squeeze every ounce of performance out of them completely optimizing them for the console hardware. Newer consoles have hard drives so you can now save your game anywhere just like on the PC. In reality, today’s consoles are simply PC’s repackaged and optimized for pure gaming, They come with a 3 to 5 year life span in which you can play all of the latest games without upgrading. They eliminate all of the hardware, driver headaches and maximize on all of the game play and fun. Oh, and one more thing… I can get an entire console system including all of the bells and whistles for less than the cost of the latest and greatest PC video card upgrade!

Sure PC games are bleeding edge. This bleeding edge (which is much narrower now more than ever) comes at a great cost in both money and in time lost. I would rather give up this small edge, for more time to enjoy and play the games rather than getting lost in the system hardware, software installation, drivers and configuration.


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