Saturday, April 23, 2011

How I Fell Back In Love With PC Gaming

One night in December of 2006, I cruised around the local Best Buy with money to burn.  I was 22, had a new credit card, and was looking to put it to work.  I decided to spend $399 plus tax, on an Xbox 360.  What led me to my purchase, was a recent history of my gaming pc having problem after problem.  I was sick and tired of troubleshooting driver issues, re-installing games, and reformatting and doing a fresh install of Windows XP.  I was doing what I swore I would never do.  I was giving up my mouse and keyboard to be a console gamer.  I knew that at least with a console, I wouldn't have to worry about anything.  You put the game in the console, you play the game.  Done.  I simply wanted to spend more time playing the game than troubleshooting it.  I got my wish.  The experience was simple.

The coming months were bliss. I played hours and hours of games on my new Xbox, and I cared about my Gamerscore. It seemed that my new love affair would never end. I was playing Crackdown when disaster struck.  There was artifacting on my screen, and a loud beep came from my TVs speakers.  I then was witness to the "three red rings of death".  I was sad, yet simultaneously happy.  I was sad because my new console was broken, but happy because I knew that Microsoft would foot the bill to fix my new companion.  I filed my claim with Microsoft on the same day, and they sent me a box to send back my defective Xbox 360.  The turn around time was somewhere around two weeks, and I was back to playing all my new games.  I was back to my console gaming lifestyle.

Months later Rock Band entered my life.  My time spent playing my Xbox 360 skyrocketed.  I was obsessed with the game.  I played so much that I had made it up to playing expert drums within a few months.  If I'm not mistaken, I also did not have a girlfriend during this period of time.  It was also during this period of time that my Xbox 360 broke yet again.  I had the same speedy, and friendly service from Microsoft.  Another box.  Another two weeks.  Back in business.

This cycle would go on to repeat itself three more times.  They kept replacing it with the same generation Xbox that was known to fail.  I have had six Xbox 360s since 2006.  My last one broke a bit over a year ago, and has been broken ever since.  The last one was not the red ring issue that was covered under Microsoft's warranty.  My particular issue is that it simply will not read discs.  It tells me to place my Xbox 360 games into an Xbox 360.  It is rather infuriating.  I refuse to pay Microsoft $120+ to fix my sixth broken unit.   This was no longer the simple experience I was looking for.

What was a man to do?  I plugged in my old PC, installed Windows 7 and Steam, and caught up on some of my older games.  I came to realize that some newer games would still play fine on my aging machine.  It seemed that my whole time playing console games, PC games hadn't become that much more demanding on computers.  I was up and killing zombies with Left 4 Dead.  I was building sentries and capturing intelligence in Team Fortress 2, and questing in World of Warcraft.  I was also re-connecting with my PC gaming friends.  As time passed, I became decreasingly upset about my broken Xbox.

Since then I have added a few upgrades to my machine so that it could be my Hackint0sh/Gaming PC.  My experience has been much the same on my PC as it was on my console.  I now can just install, and play.  I don't seem to have the same issues I used to.  Maybe it is because Windows 7 isn't a steaming pile of crap.  Many games even support an Xbox 360 controller, which is great for my casual games, or for times that I want to sit back in my chair and put my feet up.  The PC gaming experience has become much more streamlined, and accessible to the average user.  PC gaming is also a cheaper hobby than its console counterpart. During my adult, console gaming years, I also began to see that you are charged for everything.  Any download content that would be free to the PC community, was between $5 and $20 for console gamers.  At the time I thought it was an ok price to pay for the simplicity of everything.  I dumped a lot of money into Rock Band DLC, and other various upgrades and expansion packs for my other games.  Now none of this was accessible. Games are also cheaper at launch for the PC/Mac platform.  There are new sales on Steam every week.  Overall it is a more wallet friendly platform.

The lure of console gaming still exists.  In fact I still want to purchase one of the new Xbox 360s so that I can play Rock Band 3.  I still have friends on Xbox Live to earn achievements with.  That day will come soon enough.  In a way I do feel fortunate that my Xbox broke when it did.  I have enjoyed a lot of games with friends and strangers that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to otherwise.  I appreciate how far PC gaming has come.  It is not dying like many claim.  It is in fact thriving, so please speak up if you are with me.  I raise my mouse and keyboard to you.

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