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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Breaking Down the Master Race

Earlier this month, I read on Kotaku a user-submitted article about how we don't need game consoles.

I could write an itemized list, debating each point the writer made, but that's not what I'm here for.  Besides, the comments handled that pretty well.

What I aim to do, is to break down the mindset, or the perceived mindset of the "PC Master Race".

The PC Master Race term is basically the PC equivalent of console fanboys.  They are people who will defend their platform to the death, and deem all other platforms useless or for 'lesser beings', i.e. "Casuals".  You see this with the PS3 and Xbox to a degree (though the flame wars haven't been as bad lately).

One of the main arguments that zealous PC users like to throw out to show their superiority is their graphical fidelity.  While it is true that games may look or perform better on some PCs, the experience is not indicative for ALL PCs.  A few years ago, Crysis looked gorgeous on the PC.
Left: Real World Picture, Right: Real World... I mean Crysis.

The problem is though, that most PCs at the time could not run it at the highest settings.  Hell, most computer couldn't run it smooth on Medium settings.  

Now, the PC gamers love to tout graphics, but as a good portion (at least I hope) of gamers know that graphics don't make the game any more fun to play.  

Yaaaaaaay!

Yawn.


I know GTA IV crapped out Game of the Year awards, but oh my God did I get bored with that game.  I would much rather play a game that would capture my attention than one that would look pretty.  

Now I'm not saying we need to go back to Pong level or Text Based games, no no no.  I'm just saying that more pixels/polygons =/= more fun.

The next main source of ammo for the PC Elitist's gun is the customizability of the experience.  With mods and otherchanges a person can make to a PC game, it's hard to argue with them.  If we look at a game like Minecraft, a lot of people find that Vanilla (unmodded) MineCraft is too boring or easy, so they use mods that add more monsters or blocks.  This is impossible in the Xbox version of MineCraft.    This is the greatest strength, to me, that PC gaming has.  The ability to get little tweaks and modifications can give a game either new life, in the form of HD Texture packs for games like Duke Nukem 3D or Deus Ex, or add new content to a game, like The Nameless Mod.

There are times though when this backfires.  I tried to install a mod for Oblivion.  Turns out the mod wasn't compatible with my computer's integrated graphics card.  So I spent the hours downloading the 3GB total conversion, and the long install time, only to find that I just wasted that time.

This is obviously an error on my part for not doing my homework on the mod, but it highlights one of the problems with PC Gaming, one that the die-hards refuse to acknowledge.  The sheer diversity of machines on the market hinders gaming so much. Once you factor in legacy issues, gaming on any machine can be risky.  If you have too new of a machine, some older games may need extensive work-arounds to play.  If you're on an older machine, good luck running many of the newer games.

Another phase of the PC Gaming you hear about occasionally is the ability to get games for free via piracy, but this will be covered in a future podcast.

Now the biggest thing that PC Gaming lacks, in my eyes, is consistency.  A game can run differently on similar machines due to how the user takes care of their computer.  Compare that to any console.  If a game runs on SNES x, it'll run the same on SNES y, unless the console has a defect.  I played Alpha Protocol on the PS3, despite owning the PC version.  Why?  Simple, it ran SO MUCH BETTER on the PS3 compared to my computer.  With consoles you know exactly what hardware the users are going to be playing on, so you can play to the strengths of the machines.

You thought I forgot about this game.  THINK AGAIN!

To end on a happy note, one that I can't argue with, the PC scene has a MUCH wider variety of games, especially due to indie games and flash games.  Some genres, like RTS and FPS, play better on the PC than they do on consoles (Seriously, TRY to play StarCraft 64).

Which button is the "Get them to stop killing me" one?

To wrap this up, yes, PC's have obvious strengths in their game diversity and potential power, but their biggest drawbacks are legacy issues, and platform inconsistency.  Sadly, these will never be solved due to the rapid pace that PC Technology advances at.  

Each platform has their strengths and weaknesses, whether it be the Wii for single-unit multiplayer, the Xbox for Timed Exclusives, the PS3 for Free Online Multiplayer, or the PC with it's wide breadth of choice.  Going around decrying another person's choice of gaming isn't something to laud.  Instead, we should be praising the fact that gamers today HAVE this many good choices.  With the dwindling amount of exclusive titles, it's all about personal preference, and honestly, that's how it should be.  

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