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For three+ decades I was primarily a computer gamer (I say “computer” rather than “PC” since the first machine I gamed on was an Atari 400). Then I abruptly made the switch to pretty much exclusively console gaming for half a decade or so. Recently I switched back again and for a few months the consoles sat idle as I re-immersed myself in PC game.

My gaming pendulum has now settled into a happy medium and I find for me, some experiences are best on PC, others best on console. I thought I’d share some of my findings. As you read this, please understand all of this is what works FOR ME. Some PC gamers can get prickly whenever someone prefers consoles, for some reason.

I’ve found that I enjoy single player AAA titles more on console. Yeah, the PC can play them at higher graphics settings but for me that’s the only advantage PCs have for these games. I find that playing on console I get more out of these games. There are fewer distractions and I tend to play for longer sessions which also helps with immersion (and greatly increases the chance I’ll actually FINISH a game).

On the PC I’m constantly distracting myself with FOMO around Twitter or Discord. I run with 2 monitors and always have social media up on monitor two and constantly scan it. Because of this I just don’t “sink in” to a game quite as much; my attention is always divided.

Perfect example, this weekend I was playing Far Cry New Dawn on PC, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox. I actually spent more time working “around” New Dawn than playing it; mostly tweaking graphics settings to try to maximize frame rate in between jumping over to social media to see what else was going on. Over the course of the weekend I finally made it out of the tutorial. Contrast that with Tomb Raider on Xbox, however, where I got about 25% of the way through the game because I’d boot it up, start playing and keep playing, focusing just on the game.

This “single player is better on console” rule breaks down for older games. Older single player games are better on PC because of mods. If a game is good enough to still be worth playing 5-10 years after release, the community has probably modded it to make it better than it was at launch. Example: Vampire the Masquerade is STILL being patched by the community on PC, LONG after the developers walked away from it.

Then there are indie/niche games. The PC excels here. Sure there are some indie games on console but not nearly as many as on PC and whole genres (the various “Simulator” games) are virtually non-existent on consoles.

While we have some MMOs on console, I feel like they are best experienced on PC thanks to everyone having a keyboard at hand. There are console MMOs with text-chat support but balancing a keyboard on your lap while playing from the couch isn’t ideal.

MP games like The Division 2 or Anthem are a tougher call. I still can’t decide where I like them best. On PC I get a higher frame rate and (for TD2 anyway) text chat, but on consoles I tend to play them for longer sessions without getting distracted so often advance quicker. In this category I NEED to make a decision though, because I can’t afford to keep buying two copies of this kind of game!

I don’t really play a lot of strategy games these days, but if I did I’d play them on PC. I am very comfortable using a controller, but when you’ve got a ton of boxes, buttons and units to click on or select, mouse and keyboard is the way to go.

Driving games, though.. console for me. There’s something about lounging back on the couch driving around that just feels right. I wish to heck Euro Truck Simulator would come to console!

Anyway, no real point to this post other than to talk about how happy I am where my “gaming life” is right now. It’s nice to have the choice of where to play and what to play. Heck I didn’t even touch on the Switch and what works best for me on handheld. That’s another post, I guess.



Comments:
7
  • This points to a possible, intriguing and under-mentioned reason why EverQuest had such a powerful hold on players between 1999-2004. The lack of alternative social media and the unusual experience of being able to commnicate in real time with strangers around the world is often cited but no-one brings up the fact that when you played EQ back then, playing EQ was all you did.

    It was not possible (legally) to tab out of the game to web browse or do anything else with your PC, which effectively became an EQ-only games machine until you closed the game down. After a while a third party app (or program as we would have called it) called Win-EQ was developed but it was a bannable offense under the EULA to use it and most players wouldn’t risk it, even assuming they knew it existed.

    Having to play the game and not do anything else must have contributed to the much-celebrated “immersion” factor. I might need to do a post about this…

    • I can’t remember if you could access chat while Meditating, or whatever it was you had to do where your whole screen was your spell book and nothing else. Do you recall? I want to say you could because I think that’s when I did a lot of my chatting.

      • I couldn’t remember for certain either so I asked google. Looking at the screenshots from the time it seems the book took up the center part of the screen with the rest of the ui in a frame around it and the chat box at the bottom. And indeed, now I think about it, I clearly recall, as Cleric and main healer, frantically medding inside the Sarnak Fort in Lake of Ill omen while monitoring the progress of the fight in the chat box so as to judge whether I needed to leap up and cast whatever heals I could manage.

        • Thanks for looking that up!

          Can you imagine if a developer brought out a game with that kind of ‘forced downtime’ today? But as much as I hated it, I do think it added to the experience, at least at the time. Spending the time chatting, seeing someone meditating and a mob is roaming close to them so jumping in to save them… I dunno it kind of added both (almost) forced social behavior (granted, sometimes due to boredom) and a sense of danger since you were effectively blind while meditating.

  • I’ve not really settled into a good rhythm between console / PC, I tend to go on long, long swings of completely ignoring the consoles in the house (PS4, original though, not Pro and a Switch) then a short burst of playing on them.

    For the PS4, generally I only go for the platform exclusives. God of War, Last of Us, Detroit, etc. For Switch definitely exclusives too, but also certain indie or platformer titles I vastly prefer playing on it — e.g., Hollow Knight, Stardew Valley.

    The Switch is also our ‘family’ gaming unit, we have the two joycons it comes with plus another Pro controller, works well for things like Mario Kart and even Smash Ultimate. 🙂

    Otherwise though? All PC, all the time. 😀

    • Yeah that’s most people I know. At some point they bought a console but they really don’t use it much. I left PC gaming when I started working from home full time. I just needed to get away from the PC after sitting there working for 8-9 hours. I got back into it by buying a second PC and setting it up at the other end of the house, and NOT installing anything even remotely productive on it, so I’m not tempted to do some work while sitting there.

      But when I’m on the console it’s closer to family time. Angela is often sitting with me doing something on her iPad and half-watching me and many times I’ve been stuck on a puzzle or looking for something and she’ll jump in to help. Plus Lola (the dog) loves the couch time and tends to be snuggled up against me while I’m playing, which is nice.

      So I’m finding a blend works well for me. A little of this, a little of that.

  • […] was said in response to Pete’s post on the topic of finding a happy balance between computer and console gaming. How he is able to […]