The Computer Gaming Evolution
I didn’t do any computer gaming when I was younger. This is mostly due to my family being unable to afford a computer but also due to not knowing how to play computer games. When I did manage to use a computer to play games, such as at school via the old Apple IIs or at my cousin’s house, I had no idea about how to boot up a game, various settings you could configure or even how most games controlled. Why are Shift, Control and Alt the main keys when literally any of the other keys would’ve been more comfortable? What is a command prompt? Why doesn’t the game just start up when I put the cartridge or floppy disk in?
Times have changed. I’ve grown up and learned more about computers – like a lot more – and computers have changed as well. More so than ever before, it’s easy to play video games on computers thanks to clearer explanations of computer specs as well as platforms like Steam and Origin. Companies have also created easier systems in order to connect computers together for online play and stuff like remapping keys and allowing controllers to be used have made computer gaming extremely flexible and easier than ever before. My PC is now tied with my Xbox 360 as my primary source for games, quite the drastic change from a previously exclusive console gamer.
However, there are still many gamers who stick with their console of choice as their primary console and some still forgo playing video games on their computer at all. Why? Because the realm of computer gaming isn’t perfect. The past two months alone, I’ve had my save file in Antichamber corrupted, the rumble feature inexplicably removed in DmC: Devil May Cry, a glitch prevent me from moving forward in Crysis 3, and some other issue preventing my save file from being loaded in Brutal Legend. The good news is I managed to do some searching online and fix all of these problems. The bad news is that I had these issues in the first place and I had to spend time figuring these issues out instead of actually playing the game. This is something console gamers rarely have to deal with and the reason why they stick with the Nintendos, PlayStations and Xboxes of the world.
Now some of these issues are not exclusive to computer gaming. Save files getting corrupted is something I remember happening in console games since the PlayStation 1 (I will probably never finish Final Fantasy VII after my save was corrupted after I had just parachuted back into Midgar) and even before that. The most recent issue I remember is saves for The Walking Dead on the Xbox 360 being randomly deleted for some players.
However, many of the issues that consoles have are first off, new to this generation and two, typically fixed for you. Patches can now be instantly downloaded to consoles and computers but with computers, things can go wrong. Sometimes some file might be accidentally deleted or corrupted or an install might not go according to plan. Consoles have platforms like Xbox Live or PlayStation Network to make sure all goes smoothly. Unless you hack into your console, individual files can’t be tampered with. Since computers don’t have this kind of universally used infrastructure, there’s much more room for user error.
This is unfortunately an issue with computer gaming that I don’t think can be resolved. In exchange for options and freedom to do what we want with computer gaming (for the most part), we lose a reliable infrastructure that does the technical stuff for us with little to no problems.
Now that is somewhat changing as well with the advent of things like Online Passes and Day 1 Patches, which are preventing the pop in and play mentality of previous generations. This brings us to an interesting impasse. While computer gaming has improved over time in making its content more consumer friendly, console gaming has deteriorated in that regard. However, console gaming has also allowed more options than ever before with the ability to patch games, offer downloadable content and numerous ways to share your activities with others.
With the next generation of consoles on the way, we are being promised new ways to be able to connect with others and more options when playing games, such as the built in share button in the PlayStation 4’s controller and the option to play games while they’re downloading. As gamers, we have to ask ourselves do console still provide an easier experience than computer gaming or does the flexibility and adaptive nature of computers ultimately make that experience superior? I know for me personally it’s a close race and I’m just fine with it being a tie.
Image credit: GigaGamers.com