A Console Gamer’s Transition; or, How I Learned to Love PC Gaming

In my last blog post, over a year ago, I wrote about how I learned to love my iPad for the gaming device it is, and about how the gaming experiences I had been having on it were changing my previously narrow-minded stance on what defines a true video game.

I was very much a console – and console only – gamer until jumping into mobile gaming. I still love my iPad for its gaming prowess, and in fact have since then expanded my handheld gaming to a Nintendo 3DS XL. But, while that portion of my gaming habits has not changed, another has: the time I spend on my console (an Xbox 360) has decreased dramatically.

Sometimes an entire week or two will go by without firing up the 360 hidden in my TV stand. The cause of this sea change is the dreaded nemesis of console gaming – a PC. Ever since upgrading to a gaming PC, I have found that the vast majority of my gaming time over the last few months has been spent at a desk in my living room rather than on the couch. This is a situation I would never have imagined a year ago.

The lure of Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm was too much for me, and it spurred me to update a hand-me-down gaming rig to modern capacities. From there my wallet and gaming sensibilities were assaulted by Steam.

If a crime was committed here, Steam truly was the villain. I dove into the Steam store, its multitude of games and its many sales. It bewitched me with its treasure trove of games, both past and present, and the ease with which one can go on a shopping spree of immense digital proportions.

The barrier to getting my thumbs on lots of great games became so much lower once I set up a Steam account than had been the case on Xbox Live! What’s this? FTL is on sale for five dollars? Sure! I can get my hands on that Total War: Shogun 2 game I remember from a couple years ago for only $15? Wham, bam, thank you ma’am!

My newfound obsession with PC gaming is beyond the deals though. The rise of indie games on Steam has brought some incredible content my way. FTL is outstanding. Rogue Legacy is more addicting than Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Dungeons of Dredmor is roguelike heaven. In this, my views on what it means to be video game worth my time have continued to evolve as well. I may still have a controller in my hand, but it’s hooked up to a PC so I can play a spectacular indie game that I can’t access on my Xbox.

Not only have I found an incredibly stark contrast between Steam and Xbox Live, I’m also perplexed by it. Why isn’t Microsoft more open to open the indie floodgates? Does it really take a new console generation to allow self-publishing on a Microsoft platform?

Whatever the answers are, my newfound PC gaming glory has me seriously doubting my own participation in the next console generation. Only time will tell if I am able to stay strong or if the hype of the upcoming holiday season will turn me toward a big purchase. Whatever the outcome, my gaming horizons continue to expand and, regardless of the cause, my interactive entertainment is better off for it.

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