It is normal to bounce between “console peasantry” and “PC nobleman”.
As a middle-aged gamer, I have a complicated relationship with gaming devices.
Not because I’m a partisan gamer. I’ll play great gaming on whatever device they appear on; arcade cabinets, consoles, handhelds, PCs, mobile devices, tablet, Raspberry PIs — but because I can’t seem to make up my mind as to what “gamer class” I truly belong to.
Am I a console peasant? A PC nobleman? Neither? Both?
Let’s be honest — in the 1970s, we had pretty limited gaming access. Pinball machines, some early arcade games and some primitive game consoles like the venerable Atari 2600 (aka VCS). As the poor kid of a single mom, there wasn’t a lot of money to be spent on such foolishness.
The crash took consoles down and I got my first Commodore VIC-20, then Commodore 64 — and I was in gaming bliss. Even when the NES showed up around 1985; the Commodore Amiga had showed up and we saw what should have been the future of video gaming — but with apologies to Mercury, “I was just a poor boy”. I wouldn’t get one of those until the 1990s. Consoles were just plain dead to me.
The early 90s were simply amazing — with the Amiga meeting all my gaming needs. I took a stint into the Sega Genesis (Mortal Kombat II please — full blood guaranteed) but my heart was still with Commodore.
The second half of the 90s I saw my first Windows 95 PC and it ran concurrently with the Amiga.
In 1995, a friend loaned me his Nintendo 64 and my wife and I fell in love with Mario Kart 64 (save your judgement). I was anti-Nintendo back then — so we grabbed a Playstation (PSX) and played the living crap out of Crash Team Racing.
The PC kinda sucked for gaming in the early days. It was a huge pain in the ass to even hook up a controller or sometimes even get sound working — and nonsense like Games For Windows (GFN; which if there were any logic to our language would somehow be a FOUR letter word) didn’t help.
Consoles owned this decade; the Sega Dreamcast … the Xbox 360 … Playstation 2 … Nintendo DS … Wii. Good lord, what a great time to be alive.
The PC figured it out. We had some order brought to the universe. We got great controller support, a unified means of distribution (Steam) that helped gamers get organized and Windows 7 FINALLY made Microsoft’s operating system somewhat usable and stable.
But something happened .. Moore’s Law somehow got repealed for computers and the consoles suddenly started catching up.
Consoles suddenly started to look pretty good. Graphically, they were no longer three generations behind PCs. They got the same AAA games that PCs got — without a loss of features.
Online support with patches and shopping and features put consoles more on parity with PCs (right down to Day One 10GB patches).
With the refresh of Xbox and Playstation with the Xbox One X and Playstation 4 Pro — with great support of Ultra HD technologies; 4K and HDR — it really made a gamer stop and think about what platform to buy and which one to care and feed.
The fact that you can get a 4k UHD HDR TV for pennies on the dollar doesn’t hurt either.
Strangely enough, even Windows 10 … the Microsoft flagship operating system … has issues dealing with these newer technologies.
Winner: To Be Determined
We’ll have to see how 2019 goes — but I think I’m going to have a difficult time rendering a decision.
My PC is getting a bit dated; with i5 with a GTX 980 it isn’t a slouch, but putting my brand new Xbox One X next to it pumping in 4K HDR to my UHD computer monitor? It is damn hard to tell them apart — and since I game with a controller on both systems? Well .. you do the math.
I know, PCs can be as powerful as you want to make them … but for we the simple mortals, dropping $500 on a video card gets a little harder each time.
Of course, the rat race will go on. But the winner will likely be more like a nose than a length.
Oh and this article’s title is an homage to Chinatown (1974).