As this has been a slow week all around, I have been lurking around other sites to pass the time. One article, on Ars Technica, stood out. It was a simple pre-Christmas guide on consoles. Rather basic fare intended as a summation of the popular gaming console options. The article comments, though, were predictable. Mostly friendly back and forth talk about PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with folks giving their two cents. Most amusing was the non-ironic invocation of the term “PC Master Race.” One person there was particularly adamant regarding the value of computer gaming over anything else. Over the course of a few days, this person went from making valid, if rudely phrased, arguments regarding why he values PC gaming over all to becoming the type of person one would find in a corner, defecating into a dolphin’s blowhole. It’s an awe-inspiring glimpse into the fervent, almost cultish, madness.
The thing is, I am truly lucky with my lot in life. Through no real machinations of my own, I am in a place where I can own all of the major consoles, a beast of a gaming rig, both major portables, and still have enough money left over to save and eat too much. Not everybody is in this position and has to pick their primary platform. Some people choose to go all in with a PC. Others might decide a console fits their life style better. The thing is, neither option is incorrect.
For the person who selects PC, they can enjoy the ability to upgrade their rig whenever they feel. Often, a decent video card is all that is standing between them and the latest game that they want to enjoy. Plus, competition in the parts market pushes individual prices cheaper. However, a person can also opt to go all out, spending tons of money to get the bleeding edge gear and decimating anything that consoles can hope to put out currently. This type of flexibility is extremely valuable.
A console gamer isn’t without advantages, though. Simply buying a box from the store, plugging it into the TV, and patching it means that any game made for the system will work. Obviously, some games are outliers, but the unified hardware that a developer can expect allows for an easier optimization process that results in a great experience. There is no need for the gamer to worry about driver clashes, checking specs on anything that might catch their interest, or putzing with more than a handful of settings to get the best experience for them. There is nothing shameful in enjoying convenience. Plus, there is a value in possessing physical, and tradable, media. It’s nice to be able to loan games to friends and borrow in kind.
Other arguments were made in favor of PC. For example:
Steam sales renders games cheaper on PC: This isn’t always true. I have often snagged a new copy of a game for less on a console.
Mouse and keyboard are better overall for some genres and controllers can still be used for the others: This is absolutely a valid point.
You are a dumbass: That’s what my father always told me.
It’s imperative that the consumer consider what is valuable to them. Are they simply interested in playing the latest titles for as cheap as possible? A console is going to be the best choice. The games won’t look as good as a PC, but they still look pretty damn good. Is the consumer interested in having only the best hardware? Then, it’s PC all of the way.
The fact of the matter is that platform wars, whether Xbox, PlayStation or PC, are well past the point of usefulness. A healthy debate to choose the best option should still be encouraged, as one should want to pick the correct option. However, the name calling and bickering are simply a marketing tool for the platform of choice. Whenever I meet somebody in person who is dedicated to one console and aggressive to people who prefer others, I ask if they game. When they answer in the affirmative, I respond “Sweet, so do I.” We go from there. Because, in the end, it’s cool to meet people into the same stuff. Even if they choose to play on different hardware, a common interest is shared. Considering that this hobby is still considered by most of the populace as a pastime for backwards, socially awkward people, we need to have each other’s backs.