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The Reasons I am a PC Gamer

Even the most rational of people can get cult-like when it comes to something they like. Passionate loyalty will strike in the most surprising of places. An unwitting mention of yogurt in my group of friends launches a sermon of jubilant fervor to the bacterial cultures.

Greek yogurt! Mother of Stamos, it will change you!

As strong as my love for yogurt is, it pales in comparison to the sheer force of zealot-like will  in the console/pc wars.  Gamers aren’t a group known for restrained enthusiasm when it comes to the tools of their trade. As the sole pc reviewer on a site of console knuckle draggers, it was inevitable that article like this would pop up. In fact, I think it’s a legal requirement of all gaming blogs to address this issue.

The 2007 battle between XBox and PS was briefly halted so they could unite against  an even greater foe: the Wii

And that’s part of the problem: the issue of hardware vs. hardware isn’t new. Everyone has heard the argument for PC by now: Better graphics, custom settings, number keys, modding, mouse-control, etc.  It’s all fuel for the flame wars in the comments that follow, where there’s always one poster on the verge of tears as they plead “Please, can’t we just accept each other and our personal preferences? PLEASE?!”

I mulled it over a glass of pink zinfandel one night: Aside from the usual arguments, what is it that makes me gravitate so to the computer? Does the fact that I’m a suave, sophisticated individual attract me to PC gaming, or am I a suave, sophisticated individual because I’m a PC gamer? Sure, I’ll admit there is the smug gratification of throwing around words like “12 gigs of memory”, and “AMD Radeon 6000 Series” as my parents stare at me blankly, but there has to be more to it than that!

Right?

REASON #1: ALT-TAB

It happens when you’re playing games – you are a personification of focus, a rock of unblinking intensity, when suddenly, it hits you. Did somebody respond to that witty status update you posted this morning? Suddenly, your life cannot conceivably move forward until you check your Facebook page for the ump-teenth time today. Let’s face it: our tether to the internet has given us the attention-span of a goldfish (I’m assuming that’s short), making it next to impossible to work on a single sole task for very long. (It is short, right?). If you don’t believe me, check out the number of tabs currently open in your browser.

What more efficient way to satisfy your easily distracted subconscious while gaming than Alt-Tab? When that over-powering urge to watch videos of cats doing people things inevitably strikes, you don’t even have to pause the action. As a PC gamer, just artfully transition from game into your browser window in one swift, beautiful motion. You just can’t do that on a console. Typing an address into your PS3 browser with a controller? Fumbling for your Smartphone as your hands shake from social networking withdrawal? No thank you. I’ll take the efficiency of Alt-Tab. Also, goldfish have a memory-span of at least three months.

REASON #2: SCREENSHOTS

Like consuming an entire jar of peanut butter in one sitting, gaming is usually a solitary activity – and most of us prefer to keep it that way. The problem is that this contrasts starkly with our need to share things, and video games are rife with unintentional moments that just aren’t fun to keep to yourself.

And yet they stared at me like I was the weird one…

Fortunately, for those in-game moments demanding an audience, there is the “Print Screen” button. Be it epic kills, the bugs of Skyrim, or that time BioWare failed to think of the repercussions of having FemShep in a DLC dress for certain cut scenes, PCs provide a quick and easy way to preserve moments for posterity that’s already built-in.

Commander Shepard as Catherine Tramell

REASON #3: PORTABILITY

For those of us with money to burn, or who are just in denial about their student loans, there are these:

Sure,  you can take the DS or the Vita with you too, but what about those games you actually want to play? Traveling long distance? Be the envy of every bored soul in the vicinity as you suddenly crack open a giant laptop to play whatever mega-title that was released last Tuesday.

The beauty of the high-powered lap-top is that any area can become your desk at home, minus the half-empty bowls of cereal everywhere. Ferries, buses, the patio outside, these are just a few of the places I have sampled the glory of high quality gaming.

I know what you’re probably thinking right now, so I’m just going to come right out and say it. There’s also the potential for gaming in the most peaceful place on earth. The motherload of comfort. Yes, you know the place I mean:

Behold its leg-numbing wonder!

I’m not saying that you can’t have the same experience with your console, but good luck unhooking all those wires and getting your PS3 and 50 inch screen into the washroom when your colon is running on a tight deadline.

REASON #4: KOTOR HAD A BONUS AREA

I include this solely because Knights of the Old Republic is one of my favourite games, and any amount of new content, no matter how small, is kind of a big deal.

Yavin Space Station: Now with 10 minutes of content, only for PC!

I actually discovered the Yavin Space Station area on a replay. The first time I had played KOTOR was on my roommate’s XBox, where I explored every square inch of the galaxy and flirted shamelessly with Carth O’Nassi.

Nearly 8 months after moving out, I decided KOTOR warranted a replay, so I bought the game for my pc where I soon discovered there was AN ENTIRELY NEW AREA! Granted, it was tiny, and there were no missions, but there was a thrill to being privy to a previously unknown place in my favourite game, as though I had just entered into the realm of BioWare’s favoured children.

REASON #5: INJURIES

In today’s society, everyone has back pain. You can thank desk jobs and too much sitting for that. The upside is that so many adults have had to deal with these various aches that people tend to accept it as normal. Nobody is going to judge you for that stabbing pain in your neck from playing Diablo III for the last 28 hours. They might even assume that you are a responsible adult with a stable desk job.

Console-related injuries, on the other hand, are a little harder to disguise, and therefore, much less likely to get you any sympathy high fives (especially when your thumbs are bleeding).

It is never recommended to go for a sympathy high-five from a shark when your thumbs are bleeding

While back aches will get you empathetic nods, (and phone numbers for a good massage therapist), controller track marks will yield scorn for your gaming habits as people start to wonder how much you’re playing your Nintendo-thing that you’re getting blisters and swollen fingers.

REASON #6: I DON’T OWN A CONSOLE

It occurred to me that this might be the main reason why I’m a PC gamer. To be clear, I really don’t hold anything against consoles (in the world of gaming, someone has to be the inferior product) but my rental history has, for the most part been non-conducive, to console gaming – mainly because there was never any space for a tv. (I once lived in a 120 square apartment for a year in Vancouver. If I wasn’t careful, I’d trip over my refrigerator getting out of bed in the morning.)

I didn’t have any consoles growing up for a long time either. Video games had a bad rap for sex and violence even in the 80s, when graphics were so bad that nothing was distinguishable, so Nintendos, Segas and the like were practically banned from my house. Computer games, on the other hand – those could be educational. I could do enriching things like typing and math!

Not many 11 year olds could type 55 wpm in the early 90s, but those that did, had Mavis…and no NES

However, my parents failed to realize the set-up was already there for other, more interesting diversions and it only became a matter of time until other things found their way onto the computer…

And thus, a lifelong habit was born.

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About Brooke Fargo

Brooke is a game designer and writer based out of Victoria, BC. She talks entirely too much about her dog.

Posted on May 28, 2012, in Opinions And Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. how could you not load commander keen onto windows 3.1?? parents just don’t understand!

  2. I remember picking the DOS type games over a lot of NES titles back in the day because I found them more fun. Duke Nukem *Sidescroller*, Day of the Tentacle, Sim City, C&C: Red Alert, oh and the original DOOM.

    • the dos games were a lot of fun back in the day. We never had the money for a computer back then so i used to play them at joe’s all the time. commander keen jazz jackrabit, he also had this really cool robot fighting game that was in really basic 3d called “one must fall” that i used to love to play.

      • Brooke Fargo

        I loved playing Nibbles in dos. I have fond memories of playing it for hours on our orange and black computer screen. The first time I saw a colour monitor at my dad’s work though, my mind was absolutely blown. I though Commander Keen was the most beautiful looking game I’d ever seen.

  3. I would love to be a PC Gamer (or even a gamer in general. 2 kids under 2 make it tough), but for me the problem is the Alt-Tab.

    As a freelance web developer, 95% of the time I sit down at the computer it is to work. Every time I get into my office chair I hit work mode, and I weigh the pros and cons of work (getting paid) and gaming (not getting paid). When the gaming side wins I still think about work and alt-tab out on occasion to make a few coding changes.

    As a console gamer, I can load up a game and not have any work associations, and play guilt free. Of course most of the time I have free time to play a few games I end up falling asleep on the couch and soon wake up with a drool covered controller.

    • I can see where you’re coming from Chris. I have the same issue even playing on consoles as I have my smartphone on me for work all the time. Not only that, but like a real-life alt-tab, I keep going from console game controller, to my iOS, to my phone, and then my laptop (because I want to get work done).

      Though there are days when I just turn everything off, and just focus on playing a console game. Literally I have to turn off the phone, iOS, and laptop.

      Do you find yourself being able to finish games anymore?

      • i recently noticed i haven’t been finishing a lot of games i start. I think for me personally though it has to do with the fact that a lot of games I play I feel like I’ve done it 1000 times in other games, where as when a game really grabs me like skyrim or ME3 comes along I have no problem sitting down for long power play sessions. Its not that the games are bad either. dead space 2 was by all standards a great triple A title but i haven’t gone back to finish it even after i put in roughly 9 hours into it and i don’t know why…..

    • As a PC gamer and web developer, I feel your pain (no kids yet). But when it comes down to it, I’d still rather have the PC over a console. I just built my wife a rig, and she loves it.

  4. “Does the fact that I’m a suave, sophisticated individual attract me to PC gaming, or am I a suave, sophisticated individual because I’m a PC gamer?”

    Could be read as….

    “Does the fact that I’m a narrow-minded, arrogant individual attract me to PC gaming, or am I narrow-minded and arrogant individual because I’m a PC gamer?”

    This piece, unfortunately, doesn’t even attempt to provide a balanced argument. Hell, this article screams out everything that’s wrong with PC-only gamers. I’m a gamer – I have a PC, PS3, Vita and have had many different platforms over the years. Only a PC-only gamer could compare the portability of a laptop to a Vita/3DS (it’s different classes of portability, in favour of the Vita/3DS – just try and play that laptop on the bus/train!) and suggest they were talking about the same thing. It’s as if PC-only gamers have spent all their brainpower maximising their rig, and forgotten what gaming is all about – ie, gaming.

    Tbh, the strongest argument for PC gaming (which often doesn’t have better graphics – at BF3’s launch, 85% of machines used on Steam couldn’t run it – ie, were below 360/PS3 capabilities when it comes to gaming) is mods – the modding ability of PC games is the clear leg-up they have on most console games, the likes of Modnation racers and LBP aside.

    On the other hand, only PC-only gamers could argue that kb/mouse control is a clear win. Well, for anything other than office productivity software. Kb/mouse controls are default in PC games because there was nothing else to use when PC gaming was developing (I was PC gaming back then – I was there when mouse controls came along to make casualise once-challenging FPS and RPG games on PC into point-and-click adventures). After a long break from FPS on PC (I gave up on the genre on PC after mice came along) I jumped into ArmA 2 the other day, to be greeted WASD movement. Granted, I grew up on four-key movement on shooters, but after having full analog control for years, it was hilarious to come back to a PC FPS (after hearing a number of PC-only mates talking up the ‘superiority’ of gaming on PC) and find that not only were they handicapped by ‘point-and-click’ accessibility (you can’t have any weight to the aiming of weapons with a mouse setup, not even in ‘sim’ titles like ArmA2, because PC gamers won’t play it) but they were living a decade and a half behind console shooters when it came to simple traversal gameplay.

    Now, I’m not saying mouse/kb control of shooters (or platformers, or racers) is bad – people should play what they enjoy. But more accessible/casual does not always mean superior – and anyways, most of the time the PC crew are suggesting mouse/kb is more ‘hardcore’, which is just plain ridiculous.

    The thing that gets me going the most, though, is that most PC gaming these days is just console gaming with a mouse/kb, higher res displays and faster framerates. There’s few enough traditional PC gamers who play the games that formed the foundation of PC gaming (strategy games, flight sims, tough-as-nails RPGs) – most of them are happy playing around with Counter Strike or TF2. Again, nothing wrong with doing this – it’s great fun. But saying it’s better, or superior, is silly to the point of bordering on irrational, and suggests someone should get out a bit more ;).

    • Robin Miller

      Wow man, I’d called this tongue-in-cheek. Reading comprehension for the win….

      • Apologies for sounding a bit cranky – got a flu atm, and that came across in my writing a bit. On a second reading I agree that the article could be tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn’t seem to be using examples which are clearly enough ironic to get away with that (ie, it seems to be having two bob each way, rather than be a clearly ironic/tongue-in-cheek article). For example, a classic tongue-in-cheek article using those kind of examples would then proceed to call out the lunacy of taking that view, whereas the author is not clear about whether he’s making a serious argument light-heartedly, or an ironic argument.

        The underlying writing is entertaining and well-structured though, and deffo don’t want Brooke discouraged from writing just because I woke up on the wrong side of bed. Apologies.

  5. And here I thought the statement about zealotry was part of the humor in this article….. 🙂 YEAH Board Games!!

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