As much as I enjoy Japanese RPGs and portable games, people who know me best will tell you that, deep down, I’m most comfortable in front of a PC. Part of it is my temperment — I like slow-paced games that require a lot of thinking, and PCs have always been great for that. The rest is simple bad luck. As a child, the PC was my fallback measure in the face of the fact that I simply was not going to get any consoles from my parents. Not a one.
But even though I finally got a Super Nintendo about ten years ago (and a PlayStation not long after that), I’ve never quite left my PC. When it comes to things like the Xbox 360, I’m the very definition of late to the party. But when I upgraded my laptop earlier this year, I felt like a kid at Christmas. I could finally play all those games that I had been missing over the years because my PC was too old, too slow, too low on memory… pretty much every problem you would ever attribute to a PC. I could finally play Sins of a Solar Empire, BioShock, Company of Heroes, even Half-Life 2. And when I did, it felt great to exchange my controller for a mouse and keyboard.
Obviously, not everyone feels the same way, but I suppose that a lot of it has to do with what we grew up playing. We’ve all probably played at least a few PC games, I just happened to spend the great majority of my adolescence playing X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, StarCraft, Rebellion, and pretty much any other sci-fi oriented PC game that I could get my hands on. When I finally got my hands on a console following years of holiday disappointment, it had been so long that I was honestly shocked when I played Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII. Somewhere along the line, I guess I had managed to convince myself that all console games played exactly the same — fast and fun, but ultimately brainless as well. Yeah, I know, I was one of those, whatever “those” entails for you.
I’ve spent most of my time on consoles since then, but I’ve always been happy to come back and spend some quality time my PC. Of course, times have changed since 1998, and consoles today have taken on quite a few PC-like characteristics themselves. But PC gaming is evolving too, and I don’t imagine that it’ll be long before people suddenly wake up and realize that browser-based shooters and free MMOs are the single biggest thing going at the moment besides Wii Fit. And really, if I were just some kid who never seemed to get an Xbox 360 for Christmas, I would be right there with them. You compensate any way you can.
But even though I’m not 14 anymore, and I’m more than capable of shelling out the cash for a new console, I kind of feel like I’ve come full circle. I play a lot of handheld games, but hey, I played a lot of Game Boy back in the day too. And if I ever get the itch to try out that next-gen game that everybody’s raving about? Well, I can always pick it up from Steam. Otherwise, I’ve got me some Sins of a Solar Empire and Shin Megami Tensei Online to play. Or maybe even a Korean MMO. You know, the possibilities are just endless.