PC Gaming Never Really Went Away

It was at roughly this point last year when I had vowed never the invest in another PC, let alone a dreaded desktop, because I had discovered the wonders of the laptop – the portability, the convenience, the sleek design; each of them blinding me from the perks of owning a desktop computer.

Six months later I bought a desktop; what happened?

A few things, actually. The first was realizing that my brick of an old laptop spent virtually all of its time hanging out at the back corner of my desk, looking like a forgotten old folio, helped me acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t actually bring my computer with me half as much as I imagined I did.

The second was most certainly the utterly insane price differences between a bulky desktop and a sleek and sexy laptop / tablet. Desktops go for less than half the price and come with more than twice the power. Wanting a slight upgrade to my laptop would have set me back in the thousands, whereas a substantial upgrade in the form of a desktop rig would be in the low to mid hundreds.

The third, and perhaps actually the final push towards my purchase, had to do with the realization that I, despite all my assertions to the contrary, was still a PC gamer at heart and fortunately my realization occured at a time when it was suddenly alright to still love the PC.

There used to be a time when every single magazine and their weird uncle went on about the death of PC gaming in the face of all these new and massively popular home consoles – the Xbox, Playstation and a variety of Nintendo gadgets and gimmick. I was one of the ones who bought into the myth, wondering why I would waste my time gaming on a PC when my Xbox could do it better and from the comforts of my couch rather than office chair.

However, it was never destined to last.

The costs of making games for consoles has skyrocketed since big studios and their big business began to dominate the way we play, and expect to play video games. Triple A titles as they are known by are the new blockbusters; as expensive to make as feature films, involving whole casts of individuals and offering the player a cinematic experience have so massively dominated sales that virtually every studio is following suit and doing their best to make the “next big thing” albeit by following the same tired and formulaic approach we see in Hollywood whereby every movie is carbon copy of the last.

It makes me wonder if we aren’t heading for another console market crash.

The reason PC gaming is alive and well is because all the small studios, the independents, the one-man-armies without multi-million dollar budgets have retreated back to the PC, the original home of video gaming. Building a text-based adventure game, contributing a few hours a week and at no personal cost, is the simplest expression of passionate design we can find: making something because they want to, not because they are being paid to and their paychecks are dependent on the whims of the already fickle marketplace which sees studios close down and employees clean out their desks more times each year than any other industry I can think of. When these disgruntled industry veterans go home at night, some of them decide to stay there and get things done the way they used to: by hard work and a dedication.

The market is shifting once again, going nearly full circle back to the days of the independent developer which makes me realize PC gaming has been alive and well this whole time. While it may have been neglected by producers swarming to the home consoles and their lucrative new markets, the old ones never really went away, just underground waiting to collect the pieces after the console wars have ended.