I feel like I exist in a fairly small gaming demographic: the old console gamer. It’s probably not really the case, but it is how I feel. A lot of my ‘social media’ contacts were established back when I was an MMO player on PC & most of those folks are still on PC of course. I struggle to make new connections so I remain, at least within my bubble, one of the few console gamers in my general age group. [Dear anyone under 50: You are NOT “an older gamer.” 🙂 ]
I started as a PC gamer. Maybe I should say computer gamer. The first device I owned to play games on was an Atari 400 that I bought in 1979 or 1980. From there it was Atari 800XL, Commodore 64, Atari ST (I am a veteran of the Atari ST vs Commodore Amiga flame wars!) and then finally jumped to a 386-SX PC. From that point on I kept myself perpetually broke by upgrading every couple of years. PC gaming was expensive back then since the tech was advancing so quickly and OF COURSE I wanted to play the latest games in all their glory.
The first console I bought was a TurboGrafx-16 and that would’ve been 1987-ish? A string of consoles followed but they were always a side-thing, in much the way many of my PC gaming peers today have a console that they fire up every once in a while just for a change of pace.
I still own an “OK” gaming PC. In fact I just bought a new one last winter when the gaming laptop I was using imploded. I keep one around because frankly it felt WEIRD not to have a gaming PC, even though I really don’t use it for gaming very often.
So why’d I make the change to console? It wasn’t a deliberate decision and there were a few reasons.
The first was that I started having RSI issues in my wrist. I’d spend all day working with a mouse and keyboard and then spending my evenings and weekends PC gaming meant just a LOT of mouse use. Particularly during my Diablo addiction. That game killed my wrist and the pain started to get really bad.
I couldn’t stop working, so I had to stop gaming. This happened kind of between when PC gaming joysticks had died off (remember when your PC had a joystick port!?) and when controller support for PC games became common. Plus I had a console so why not just use that. I could game with a controller without any discomfort and it gave my wrist time to rest/recover.
At this point I was kind of a hybrid gamer. I played on the PC when I could (mostly MMOs) but used the consoles for single player stuff.
Then, about eight years ago, I started working from home full time. This drove the nail into my PC gaming coffin. We live in a smallish apartment and I was doing my WFH stuff on the same PC I gamed on. I was actually working 2 jobs at the time, so I’d put in 8 hours for job #1, a couple hours for job #2, all sitting at that computer. By the time I was done for the day I just HAD to get out of that room, so when it was time to game I’d head to the living room and the consoles. (I wonder if the pandemic caused any of my readers to have this “must get away from computer!!” reaction?)
And that was pretty much it. Console gamer from that point on. I did try PC gaming on the couch in a variety of ways, from physically hooking a PC to the TV, to streaming solutions like Steam Big Picture and Nvidia Gamestream. They all worked, but all were a little fiddly. I felt like I needed a keyboard & mouse handy just in case a game expected you to have one, which led to the living room being cluttered with PC peripherals. That bugged me.
I also grew old and lazy. I really like that I can just flip on a console and not have to futz with anything. Every game fully supports the controller. There are no driver conflicts. The things update themselves, and a console stays viable for a long time. Bonus points for the dog being up on the couch with me, keeping me company.
Of course there are a lot of downsides to console gaming. The lack of mods is a big one, for sure. A few games support mods on console but it’s still quite rare. Consoles get a lot of PC ports with poor replacements for mouse & keyboard control. You have to wait for the manufacturer to decide it’s time for you to get better graphics.
Worst is probably the lack of a “tribe” on console. I watch these groups of PC gamers I know form around the latest hotness, and I’ve yet to find that kind of group on console. Just saying “on console” isn’t even accurate because you have to find a group on Xbox, or on Playstation, depending on your preference. Of course there ARE lots of those groups on the console platforms but they’re generally composed of people decades younger than I am. If there’s a group of 60+ liberal console gamers out there, someone point me at them!
Since I DID buy a new gamming PC not too long ago, and I have carved out a second spot in the apartment to put it (who needs a dining room, right?) I keep thinking I’ll get back into PC gaming. I buy the games, I install the games…and then I go play something on one of the consoles. I’m not sure why I can’t get back to PC gaming, tho it might just be laziness. Again, it’s just so easy and relaxing to crack open a beer, flounce down on the couch and put my feet up, and start adventuring.