I’ve been a console gamer since I was knee high to a Power Flower; controllers have formed the very joints in my hands over the long years that arc out behind me. But this is possibly about to change. Over the years I’ve always looked over into the ‘other yard’ at the PC gamers with their mice, keyboards and GPUs with a little envy. They have superior graphics for much of the time; their multiplayer games are enormous and, well, mods.
And as I grow older and my wallet grows lighter I often find myself pining at the Steam sales and their discounts. Though to be honest, even a full price game will fare better on the purse strings than a console game, even if it’s just by a few sterling.
But what has always put me off, and to an extent still does, is the baffling amount of information that you need to process in order to get what you want out of a gaming rig. Many people don’t know their teraflop from their 6V rails and to be honest if it was all a little simpler then PC gaming may be more accessible.
Far too many people complain at the price of gaming components, but to be fair if you buy the right things then annual upgrades will be low and thus the cost comes down. But, the biggest issue is how to differentiate the jargon. How the average person is meant to tell the difference between GDDR, PCI-E, Radeons, ATI and PSU wattage, is beyond me. It may as well be Greek.
And Google is no help either. Just typing the phrase “which is better HD 5830 or GTX 460” will bring up reams of forum pages with umpteen people squabbling over framerates and lighting effects. Whatever happened to saying, ‘yes, this one is better’?
A friend of mine approached me a few weeks ago and stated that he wanted to jump into PC gaming. He likes 40k and fancied playing Dawn of War 2 but his laptop stuttered like a 2002 reality TV show contestant. His research online was a minefield of problems. You’d think he could say, “I want to play DOW2 and want to spend around £400, can someone point me in the right direction” Nope. First question asked back was, “Well, what else do you want to play on it?” Followed by “Will you use it as a media centre?”
If PC Gaming is dying it’s because it’s a convoluted mess of information. That’s right, I said it. I’m sure many gamers out there would be eager to jump into PC gaming if it were just a little easier to understand. Head over to eBuyer and take a look at the Graphics Card sections, both ATI and Nvidia have over 20 pages of products with cards that range from the “can barely register emails card” for £20 up to the “Being used on the International Space Station card” for £400.
And don’t even bother walking into the well known High Street Retailer with PC in its name unless you want to be visibly mocked by a closet Level 74 Paladin. The reason that chimps work in GAME and Gamestation is because it’s ridiculously easy to buy consoles and their games. Can’t we level the playing field?
Do I want to play PC games? Yes, badly. I want to be a part of the community, I want to play mods for Left4Dead 2, I want to earn Steam achievements and spend a month’s worth of income in the Christmas digital download sales, but most of all I want clarity.