TryingToGame's Blog

Considering switching to console gaming (or how I probably shouldn’t have become a pc gamer) (My Gaming History / Rant-Ramble)

February 09, 2019 @ 4:25 am

I’ve mainly been a pc gamer. I first played as a preschooler educational games on my father’s laptop, and later on got my own pc at the age of 10. I didn’t get a console at that point because my parents thought that since the pc could play games too, there was no need for a console, and, not knowing any better or foreseeing how things would evolve in the space of pc gaming, I thought they were right. My only experience with console gaming at this point was playing PS2 with my best friend at the time when I was in her house – we played mainly football games and GTA San Andreas (yeah, we 10 year olds played an 18+ game – typical experience of most kids though, I’d reckon. And no worries, I mostly preferred gambling on horse races :P). For a number of years, I was fine playing games on my pc as they ran fine and didn’t need anything else except perhaps the cd in the drive, but then things started evolving in a way I didn’t like. I stupidly bought a game without noticing it needed Steam, and then had to install that stupid client, and after installing the game (which took a while), it wanted to update it on top of that! This was my first contact with Steam, and left a sour taste in my mouth. After this I started noticing more and more physical games wanting Steam, and nowadays if I go to the game store 90% or more of the pc games are like that. This thankfully didn’t prevent me from enjoying pc gaming for a little while more. I found out about GOG around 2013, and liked the drm-free and offline gaming promise they had at the time, so I bought a number of games from there too. In the last 2-3 years however, since GOG started expanding more and more on newer/modern games territory, I noticed the trend that games started requiring more and more in terms of system requirements. When I first started pc gaming, I didn’t really have to look at system requirements, as almost everything I threw at it played, but as time passed and didn’t really update my pcs in terms of specs (after my first pc, I got a laptop with 1 gb RAM, and when Chrome started misbehaving in that config, upgraded to 4 gb RAM), it wasn’t guaranteed anymore that something I’d buy would play. I distinctly remember buying Shantae Risky’s Revenge for pc, and it showing a grey screen. It turned out my graphics card wasn’t compatible – thankfully GOG Support allowed me to return the game, giving me store credit. So yeah, having to look at system requirements and buying something, hoping it’ll play, isn’t very fun. In addition, the problem with digital distribution is that the games need to be downloaded, something that requires a good internet connection. Mine is average, so when the download size of a game is over 1gb, I always worry the download will be interrupted by the connection or something, and more and more games have ludicrous download sizes – some, I’ve read, can reach 60 gbs or more!

Another thing that differentiates me from the stereotypical pc gamer, other than my dislike of having to check the system requirements and having a comparatively weak pc and internet connection, is also that (perhaps due to the weak pc factor) I don’t focus as much on graphics as other people. I always turned the graphics settings way down, even when my pc was better suited for playing the games of the era, because some games (e.g. Age of Empires III) lagged at certain points with the graphics settings at default, and I value performance more. After all, if a game is super laggy and nearly unplayable because of that, who cares if its graphics are top notch? I sometimes see in store demonstrations and youtube videos of the current gen of consoles, and while their graphics certainly look impressive, I’m stuck to the past in terms of graphics and think the peak was in 2005 or so. Because of this I also don’t notice / don’t mind any differences in graphics comparison videos e.g. I didn’t see much of a difference in ps4/switch comparisons of games.

At any rate, I gamed less during uni, but recently three things happened that caused me to start considering changing my manner of gaming.

First, I got invested into handheld gaming, after I bought a 2ds during summer discounts. I should note here that I got a wii around 2010, but didn’t use it much, because my mother wanted to watch shows on the tv, and always interrupted my gaming for that, which left a sour taste in my mouth, and I ended up storing away the wii after a couple years or so. (I also own a dsi and a psp I bought discounted, after their successors had been released, and thus never found many games in the store for those.) Thanks to the wii though, I was acquainted with Miis, and as I love their style, that was one thing I missed from my wii. So when I saw that the 3ds had mii channel, I was very excited, and was even more excited when I discovered the existence of Tomodachi Life and Miitopia. I bought these games physical full price and don’t regret it. I’ve poured more hours on these than on any other game I own on the 3ds, because I love the cute mii interactions so much. At any rate, I didn’t want to remain only with these games (having a system for only 2 games would be kind of a waste), so I looked up other games for the system. This led to me getting acquainted with the Kirby series, buying and beating both games of the main series available on the 3ds, and am currently thinking of buying Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn when it comes out on March. And of course I also own many other games for the 3ds, as you can see on my profile. This proved to me that handhelds have lots of great games, and deserve to be played in their own right, and best of all, since they have their own screen, playing them doesn’t use the tv, avoiding annoyances from people who want to watch tv.

The second thing that led me to consider switching to console gaming was getting a tv with hdmi. Until a few months ago in my family we had a tv without hdmi ports, so I couldn’t even consider buying a console from the latest two generations (the wii used an input compatible with our tv, so it was fine in that regard). After we bought a new tv with hdmi, which happened after I got my 3ds, my mind started idly considering buying a Switch. My thought process was a bit like “Since I now have an hdmi tv, I can now buy modern consoles, and I like the Switch’s idea of both portable and console” (plus when I saw the reveal ad back in 2016, I almost salivated, and I wished I had an hdmi tv) “and I’ll be able to use the Switch on the tv (because the screen of the 2ds is a bit on the smaller side) –and being a pc gamer, I’m used to bigger screens-“ (certainly the average laptop screen is way bigger than the screen of the 2ds) “plus, it being a handheld means I’ll be able to use it like that when someone else wants to watch it, and I’ll be able to take it with me when I travel”. The inhibiting point for the moment was the price though – the base pack is 330 euros where I live, and considering I bought the wii 220 euros and the other handhelds I own for under 100, I’m hesitant to spend that amount of money, so I haven’t bought the Switch yet.

The third thing that led me to consider console gaming, and also expanded my wish list to the ps4 too, was an unfortunate incident my pc had which I believe reduced its gaming performance. In particular I attempted to record the screen with OBS Studio and it crashed very badly and I heard a sound as if something had stopped working. Since then, I need to click the Chrome icon a good dozen times before it opens, and the first game I played after this incident -Jack Keane- lagged at certain points, even though it is a 2007 game and I used the lowest graphics settings. Because of these I suspect it is the hardware acceleration that burnt, but I can’t be sure, as I’m not hardware-savvy at all – another fact that differentiates me from the stereotypical pc gamer, as the internet leads me to believe it’s almost expected from a serious pc gamer to build their own desktop, choosing parts by themselves, something that I definitely can’t do. Thankfully, I have a separate pc with similar specs to the one with the burnt thingy, where I installed Linux (because I’m risk-averse and didn’t want to dual-boot), but only a minority of my games plays natively on Linux, so I’ll have to use Wine (a program that allows Windows software to be used under Linux), and this requires tinkering in some cases, and as I mentioned I’m not too fond of that. After this incident I thought that I had better write off the pc with the burnt thingy in terms of gaming usage and, after finishing with Jack Keane, only use it for browsing and Office. I am not in the mood to buy a new pc, as the pcs that are in the 300-400 range (the most I’m willing to pay for a laptop, given I’m not the building-desktops type) are even lower specced than the ones I currently own, and I also absolutely want to avoid Windows 10 as much as I can. So I started idly thinking that a ps4 would be a good idea, since it plays many of the newer games, and doesn’t need configuration, and everything bought is guaranteed to run. The downside of course is the same that plagues modern gaming, that is that the games might want updating before usage, and the installation might take lots of space on the hard disk – and I’m the type that’s afraid to even swap up hard disks, to avoid anything bad happening.(Thank goodness many ps4 games have physical releases, that should shave off some of the download sizes I would expect otherwise). And I also want to confess that I was interested in the PS exclusives for a while, and wanted to try them out, but couldn’t due to not owning the consoles. At any rate, the PS4 is definitely cheaper than the Switch (299 euros the cheapest where I live), but I’d like to think about getting it a little longer, due to the aforementioned downsides. (My mother now has more work to do than she used to, so she isn’t going to interrupt my gaming much thankfully).

To sum it up, I’ve been using low-specced pcs for years, but only recently it started to really hurt my gaming, and getting into handheld gaming and also getting an hdmi tv opened up options some of which I didn’t even dare consider before.

Also my not caring about graphics and specs (generally wanting things to “just play”), and not wanting to tinker with hardware shows that I’m probably the type that should have probably become a console gamer instead in the first place. Let’s hope that when I’ll finally get around to buying my first home consoles after the Wii that I’ll able to enjoy whatever games I want without worrying about how they’ll perform.

I'm glad I got these off my chest. Thank you for reading.

P.S. Of course I still have my pc backlog of 500+ games to beat, but that doesn’t prevent me from buying games I don’t own on the pc, and thank goodness I have the Linux pc around, as this will allow me to at least play a part of that backlog.