What happened to PC gaming?

This is one of those “Git offa my lawn!” old codger posts. Be warned!

We’re moving soon. And so this weekend I was packing things, which meant digging through the closet. And in doing so I found a cache of old PC games. At some point I’d taken them out of their boxes and put them in 3-ring binders complete with their fat manuals. Before I shoved these binders in a cardboard box I flipped through them and wow, did that bring back some memories.

And it also led me to feeling a bit glum about the state of PC gaming today. Setting aside the Indie movement (and thank god for them) today’s ‘AAA’ PC games all seem kind of the same to me.

See if any of you old codgers remember these titles (in no particular order):

Myth: The Fallen Lords (Bungie)
Over the Reich (whatever happened to Avalon Hill?)
Talonsoft’s Battleground series (Napoleon in Russia, Bull Run, Antietam, Prelude to Waterloo, etc)
Steel Beasts
Horse & Musket
The Thief series
Vampire The Masquerade
101st: The Airborne Invasion of Normandy
Freespace
Imperium Galactica
Grim Fandango
European Air War
MAX & MAX II
Interactive Magic’s games (Great Battles of Ceasar, Seven Kingdoms, Capitalism)
MissionForce Cyberstorm

None of these are ‘action games’ or ‘shooters’ (though a couple are simulations). OK maybe you could call the Thief series an action game…

But basically strategy games seem to have disappeared, unless you look at ‘fringe’ developers/publishers like Paradox. And bless Paradox for keeping the genre alive but their titles aren’t always the most polished games you can find.

Still, this weekend I started playing their Warlock – Master of the Arcane. It was intended as a ‘light’ diversion to mix in with packing. I didn’t want to play any MMOs because I was afraid of getting too hooked and spending too much time.

Well that didn’t work out so well. It seems turn-based strategy games are my true addiction. I don’t love Warlock.. I have a lot of gripes with it. But I couldn’t stop playing it. Angela suggested I might need an intervention, I was playing it so much. I stayed up so late playing that I got myself sick (well maybe playing with the dog in the pouring rain for a few hours had something to do with that). But yeah, it was opposite weekend with Angela hassling me about playing too much instead of the other way around (I get on her for spending too much time in Everquest 2 fairly often).

I’m often amazed and a little stunned by how much time people I know spend playing MMOs. In fact I find myself “tsking” about it (to myself) …so much time they “waste” in a game. Well now I realize I’m in a glass house; it’s just that MMOs aren’t my addiction. Turn-based strategy games are.

Maybe I should be happy they’re a dying art form.

4 thoughts on “What happened to PC gaming?

  1. My sister and I dug out Age of Empires for the gazillionth time because we needed something we could play together and all our searching of PC and console games came up with nothing but guys in gas masks yelling “Boo yah!” as our options.

    It’s downright depressing that nearly everything gamer is geared towards 18 year old idiot boys. No offense to any 18 yo idiot boys listening in.

  2. I dunno, it’s surprising just how many strategy , or full on wargames, are being produced once you go looking for them.

    For starters take a good look at Matrix Games website and see just how many old favourites have been resurrected with upgraded graphics, AI and mechanics. The old SSG Carriers at War and Battlefront series, Atomic Games Close Combat games, also Gary Grigsby and Norm Kroger classics. There are also heaps of new products and the very successful Panzer Corp series.

  3. Find anything interesting?

    I definitely recommend Battle Academy. I have it, with a couple of the expansions, on the PC and find it a great game. Nice easy flowing interface so games are pretty quick but still have a good historical feel. The same game is available on iPad now and includes extra content , premade scenarios and custom editor. If I didn’t have it on PC already I’d definitely have purchased for iPad. The price tag is high for that platforms standard which has been a point of disgruntlement, but its still cheaper then for the PC and includes more.

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