Experienced Points

Experienced Points
The Reason You're (Not) A Console Gamer

Shamus Young | 20 Jul 2015 15:00
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Nintendo 64 Kid

What's your living situation like?

If you've got preschool kids, then playing an M-rated game in the living room during the day is out of the question. Not only do you probably not want them seeing Trevor taking a dump or torturing people on the big screen, you probably need the television to keep them busy while you sneak in a half hour or so of gaming. (And I can tell you from experience you're not going to do much in the way of gaming once they go to bed. Young parents think things will work out that way, but at the end of the day you're just too tired and your body is busy reminding you that you're not 22 anymore.) In which case the family PC is a natural choice.

On the other hand, if you've got a bunch of teens who spend all day in their rooms doing social media stuff on their smartphones, the living room might be wide open.

Maybe you've got a roommate who's not a lot of fun to be around, so you retreat to your bedroom and play on your laptop. Maybe your roommate is awesome and put her console in the living room where everyone can use it.

In either case, you didn't choose PC over console. The choice was imposed on you by the people you live with.

What did you grow up with?

This doesn't apply as much to old-timers like me who grew up with the Atari, Magnavox, Colecovision, or one of the other now-defunct brands that made up the first two generations of console gaming, but it's a huge factor for kids who grew up in the 90's. Your choice of Playstation vs. Nintendo today is going to be influenced greatly by how much love you felt for Metal Gear or Mario before the turn of the century. If your parents had PC games, then you probably got comfortable with the odd and goofy technical hurdles of the platform, and even came to see it as part of the charm. If you've never really done any PC gaming, then the whole circus of redistributables, graphics hardware, drivers, and OS versions is going to suck the joy right out of the experience.

I'm not pretending I'm above all this. These rules apply to me as well. I maintained a nice workstation and computer for my day job, which made PC gaming a natural choice for me for most of my adult life. I really only started console gaming when I got into this videogame critic gig, since it gave me more stuff to write about.

The point is, people don't become console gamers because consoles are slightly cheaper, and they don't run out and buy gaming PCs because they like using the mouse. It's not really about framerate, save games, Steam sales, controllers, or mods. Those are things they latch onto after they've chosen a platform and gotten comfortable with it. Unless you're single, living alone, and you didn't have access to games as a kid, then you were probably pushed into one group or another by forces beyond your control.

Shamus Young is a programmer, critic, comic, and crank. Have a question for the column? Ask him! [email protected].

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