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Editorial - 'Why I am a PC Gamer'

by Keith Durocher on Aug. 7, 2005 @ 1:52 a.m. PDT

There may be some of you perusing this article who might recognize my name from my days writing reviews for The Adrenaline Vault. While awaiting my first assignments, I thought it prudent to hash together an introduction of sorts. Primarily, I thought I'd open a can of worms by detailing a few of the reasons as to why I'm a PC gamer and not a console fanatic.

Greetings, WorthPlaying readers.

My name is Keith Durocher, and I'm the "new guy" on staff. There may be some of you perusing this article who might recognize my name from my days writing reviews for The Adrenaline Vault; I think I shall consider that years time just one big preparatory effort leading up to my position here. While awaiting my first assignments to make their way to me, I thought it prudent to hash together an introduction of sorts. Primarily, I thought I'd open a can of worms by detailing a few of the reasons as to why I'm a PC gamer and not a console fanatic. I feel it is my responsibility to qualify my position as an "expert." If I am to be held as an authority as to what is and is not (if you'll forgive the expression) "worth playing," it is only right that you, the reader, have a solid grasp on where I'm coming from.

I would like to begin by stating that I make no claims whatsoever as regards to "old school" credibility. Sure, I've been gaming in one form or another for a great many years, but that in no way makes me more hardcore than the next enthusiast. It just makes me older than some. I could, were the mood to strike me, stand on a soapbox shrieking out melodramatic claims that I cut my teeth on the original Doom and X-Com: UFO Defense on a dilapidated old 386! Yes, I could make such grandiose statements, and I could do it until I develop throat polyps. It would amount to little more than a hollow gesture, bereft of any value saving that of theatrics. I am of the opinion that seniority means much less than passion and dedication. On that score, I believe I rate at least above average.

The next statement I feel is required before leaping into my opinionated musings is my intentions. Specifically, I am not aiming to stir the vitriolic cauldron of "us versus them." I am a PC gamer, and I plan on detailing a few reasons as to why exactly I am such a loyal proponent of the platform, but I have no intentions of belittling the Xbox, the PS2, the GameCube, or any of the next-generation systems either. I have trained myself to at least understand the appeal of those machines, so as to be more informed regarding my own position. I hope this is clear, because I'm not trying to offend anyone. "Just the facts, ma'am."

So, what do I love about PC gaming over the console? What is it that has kept me locked in front of my monitor all these years, thereby providing me with enough experience to get away with saying "yea" or "nay" and having some small influence on the success or failure of a given title? How about I keep it simple, and just cover a few points. Let's go with five – that's a good arbitrary number, isn't it?

Call me crazy, but I actually like the fact that each new generation of PC titles rides the edge of new hardware capabilities. I love knowing that my mind will continually be blown away by new graphics and sounds. I eagerly await the expansive alien vistas offered by the latest 3D engine pushed to the limits. The stifling and claustrophobic levels offered by consoles seem so restrictive to me compared to the nigh-infinite places a good PC game can and will take me. Consoles tend to go obsolete too quickly as well; the limited and archaic capacity of the Xbox, PS2, or GC just isn't enough. The pure muscle offered by even a mid-range PC makes it an infinitely superior gaming platform, hands down. Of course, cost tends to be an effective counterbalance, but then again, current price-point rumors place the PS3 at just shy of a high-end PC, so even cost is no longer as potent an argument as it once was.

The fact of the matter is, no matter how much beta-testing you do, there will always be unforeseen gremlins, maliciously mischievous little glitches that arise and plague the flow of a game. Consoles cannot effectively correct these, short of a new version of the title itself. That's an awfully expensive way to repair things. For example, how many people got burned by Morrowind on the Xbox? Was it fair to make people wait until the GotY edition for memory-leak fixes? PC games developers can release steady patches (for free) to correct errors as needed, extending the longevity of a purchase considerably. Of course, one hopes that this doesn't lead to sloppy titles that rely on that very fact. I'm sure we've all felt like we were paying to beta-test a game released before it was finished once or twice.

New content
Consoles have been trying to gain some ground here with "downloadable" content that so far hasn't been much more than keys to unlock code that's already included with a game. That's a pale shadow of what a well-supported PC title serves up. The list of what is offered is almost endless: new maps, new skins, new levels, even full expansions. These are all available at the click of a "download now" button. Nintendo just looks on in envy while it slaps a $70 price tag on the next iteration of Mario.

Mod communities
I am part of a musical sub-genre that is heavily reliant on remixing, and to me, Mod communities are just the remixers of PC gaming. Several of my favorite games I won't play unless it's under the auspices of a modification, the best example being the Shifter mod for Tribes. (Yes, I still play that game from time to time.) Take a look at Counter-Strike, the world's most popular player-built add-on. Do you really think the PlayStation would have birthed such a freak success story? From new models and skins, through to new music, sounds, maps, and multiplayer game styles, the flexibility of new content that home-brew Mods offers is something that we will likely never see with the ultra-proprietary console market.

LAN gaming
I'm sure all the Halo zealots will cry foul for this point; I scoff dismissively at thee. "Scoff scoff," says I. Four people squinting at a single TV screen does not a LAN party make, even if you are wealthy enough to afford a massive plasma screen behemoth in your living room. Consoles are trying to catch up, but they have a long ways to go before they'll match the heady rush of a fully networked gathering of like-minded PC gamers playing together, screaming out in joy or frustration at each gib and flag-cap.

I won't bother going into the more semantic points like keyboard/mouse controls and so forth because those are entirely too subjective anyway. Of course, it is worth mentioning that I'm aware of how much work is being put into correcting these same issues in the next generation consoles. Microsoft is bending over backwards (quite ignoring the screams emitted by their spine) to make Live! the defining aspect of their next offering. They want to offer patching and downloadable content more than an anachronism, and it's about time. Then again, one is left wondering, "What took you so long?" At this point, these things are almost taken for granted by PC gamers. This is why we tend to snicker so condescendingly whenever we hear fanboys raving about voice chat and the tactical advantages it offers. To those of us who've been using Roger-Wilco or Teamspeak for years, it's hardly anything new.

So what's the overall point to this proselytizing? Well, I suppose to illustrate that I put thought into my enthusiasm, and that I'm not just arbitrarily waving the opinion stick around while I rant and rave with a gravelly-voiced lunacy. I love more than just the games; I love the platform and all that comes with it. Like a high-maintenance trophy wife, PC gaming is mine, all mine and I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course, I'm no coward; I'm more than willing to take my lumps at the hands of those who disagree. That said, I invite you all to come vent your opinions in our forum.

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