I think it’s casually been mentioned that I recently got a new computer. Well, built a new computer. As a result and coincidence I have been gravitating towards PC gaming after a five-year absence from the genre. I found it to be something I missed dearly without even realizing it.
Since the days of Atari and Commodore 64 (a time period which never ended for some people) there has raged a debate as to which is the better gaming platform, the computer that does things beyond playing games and the computer that doesn’t do anything but play games. Granted these days the lines between the two are blurring, but PCs will always have one clear distinction. More buttons.
But Enosh, this is the enlightened age of motion control, what possible argument could there be for more buttons? Well unless you’re a third grader running around catching big red balls they come in pretty handy. And let’s be clear here. When I want to work up a sweat playing games I’ll go out to the quad for a game of ultimate with the boys, not flail my arms around in front of my TV. But seriously. Have you seen all the buttons on your keyboard? I don’t feel like counting them, but I know there’s a lot more than 34 and each one can be programmed to do stuff in games. That’s way more than 16 or so I have on my Xbox controller. Battlefield 1942 players will tell you having a button for each weapon slot is far superior than scrolling through a list with one button and this translates well to the current incarnation of Battlefield and other great games like Starcraft II and of course WoW.
Can you imagine playing WoW on a console? A buddy of mine rented SimCity for the Playstation with disastrous results. Never did figure out how to build more than one block of road, power lines, pipe, or rail at once. It just doesn’t work. I like the keyboard. It became an extension of my hand when I was dashing through Germany dodging Nazi bullets and what not. Sure when I started hunting Al Tair through the deserts of the Middle East in Modern Warfare I had a similar oneness with the controller, but when it came time to hit the deck or stab a dude I had to decide. I wanted to be able to do both quickly and without conscience effort and that was something the controller would not let me do. As a Call of Duty man from the early days I found this very frustrating. I did my best shooting from the prone position. While guys all around me were prancing through the fields willy-nilly I was dodging from one spot of cover to the next snipin dudes like nobody’s business. And when a Jap jumped out of a bunker right in front of me I was all “HA HAAA!!” with my stabby knife.
I realize this is a standby argument, ‘precision control cannot be had with a controller.’ But for me it’s more than that. I’m a writer. I’m familiar with the keyboard. There’s something fundamentally relaxing about sitting back with that flat piece of plastic on my lap and slamming down another caffeinated beverage. Code Red is my personal vice. My boss asked me when I would be relocating the Pepsi bottling plant at work today. Much of these probably relates back to the fact that as a child I was not permitted to possess a gaming console. Being the clever young nerd that I was I compensated by slowly amassing a collection of PC games right under my parents’ noses. Sure I kept up with my homework and became very good at convincing Wordperfect to print on the special pieces of paper my teachers had us do special projects on, but I also became seriously addicted to X-wing and the Journeyman Project. A game my brother dubbed “Sweeperman” because of the ridiculous noise the time traveling robots made when they walked.
There are of course drawbacks to PC gaming. My CPU alone cost me about $50 less than a PS3 and the only reason I could afford Windows 7 is because I know a guy who knows a guy who’s half-brother Marcus can get Microsoft products at a significantly discounted price. Don’t worry I have a verified copy (I had to verify it so I could run the virtual machine to play Riven) and it’s all legit. But for that investment I have a beautiful machine that can run todays best games while playing Pandora music and will continue to be relevant for years to come. I purposely bought a machine that can slowly be upgraded along the way to keep it competing with the best of the best.
Now does this mean I will be lighting up my 360 Jimi style and spending the rest of my life in a dim basement surrounded by blue LEDs giant LCD monitors and a headset that puts Han Solo to shame? Nope. I still love my Xbox. But now I can point the blame squarely at Mojang when Tophat’s server suddenly experiences crippling lag after the most recent Beta update. Despite what those jerks on Get Satisfaction think I should not have to downloaded third-party software just to play a game without having the blocks I just placed 128 meters in the air disappear beneath my feet and cause me to die more than 300 chunks from the spawn point and lose my diamond tools for the third time tonight. Thank goodness I’m an op.