Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
The Glorious PC Gaming Master Race

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 28 May 2013 12:00
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The word 'elitist' is becoming a problematic one, if it wasn't already. I hate the way it tends to be used in politics. If the candidate you're up against is obviously smarter, better looking, better connected to reality and all-around transparently more qualified to run the country than you are, all you have to do is say the magic word 'elitist' and suddenly it's anybody's race.

But anyway. Quite some time ago I coined a phrase in Zero Punctuation that now has its very own page on knowyourmeme.com - The Glorious PC Gaming Master Race. It was intended to be ironic, to illustrate what I perceived at the time to be an elitist attitude among a certain kind of PC gamer. People who invest in expensive gaming PCs and continually spend money to make sure the tech in their brightly-lit tower cases is up to date. Who actually prefer games that are temperamental to get running and that have complicated keyboard interfaces, just because it discourages new or 'casual' players who will in some way taint the entire community with their presence.

I meant it as a dig. Some PC gamers I think have been using it unironically, but that's not what matters. What matters is that elitism was what turned me off to PC gaming, just a few short years ago. And that's what amazes me, in retrospect. I started leaning more towards console gaming because they were approachable, easier to use, and you didn't have to wade through as much bullshit to get to the point of actually playing the fucking games. That was where I perceived the future of gaming lay. There cannot possibly be a future, I thought, in a gaming platform that deliberately reduces and alienates its potential audience.

It amazes me that I once thought all this, and now, as I start considering my options in terms of gaming desktop PCs, I am thinking exactly the same things about the next generation of consoles. PC gaming still retains the issues mentioned above, it's still expensive and there can still be a lot of bullshit involved in getting games running, but suddenly these problems look relatively small.

Next gen consoles aren't elitist the way PC gaming is, it's a whole other level. First of all, there's the matter of online connectivity. At time of writing the Xbone's stance on the always-on issue rather badly needs clarifying - first they claimed it would have offline functionality, then they said something about it needing to connect once a day? What happens if it doesn't, does the game stop working? Does Microsoft kill one of the hostages? Well, it hardly matters; whether it needs to connect once a day or connect permanently, it's all the same if you've no internet connection at all.

In the worst case, no connection turns a next-gen console into a useless plastic brick. But even in the best case, the vast majority of next gen's selling points require a connection, so either way a lot of potential users who live outside major population centers are automatically disinvited from the party. Maybe the number of people with no internet access shrinks by the day, but I don't think a console in these financially insecure times can afford to alienate even the smallest minority of potential buyers.

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