By Alcamin 3 Comments
This blog entry serves two purposes: one, I'm writing this to give you a bit of background to my gaming life thus far, as I am hoping to start blogging far more, and two, to talk about something that has been on my mind for some time now. It is a bit of a text wall, so I won't blame you if you don't finish it, but I promise that most entries won't be like this. To time consuming mainly. Anyway, hope you like it. Constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated. :)
PC Gaming: A Personal Lament
Like many people around these parts I have been gaming for most of my life. I remember the good old day of playing the DOS version of Space Invaders when I was five or six years old on an ancient cast-off PC that dad no longer wanted, and being mesmerised by the green and white pixel critters and the pops and crackles in all its 16-bit glory. It's easy to impress a six year old, sure, but still, it WAS the greatest thing ever back then! Thankfully, things stepped up a bit when a friend of mine was given a SNES for his eighth birthday, and as we were effectively joined at the hip, what was his was also mine, or at least that's the way I saw it. Many classic characters came into our lives as we wandered the Mushroom Kingdom, soared through the skies of Corneria, battled countless xenomorphs on Zebes, and quested through many Fantasies that always promised to be the last (lies!). This love for Nintendo carried over to the Nintendo 64, where we became the undisputed kings of Golden Eye in the local area, and later Perfect Dark. None could stand before us! We also discovered the Legend of Zelda in the form of Ocarina of Time, a game that we still both consider one of the all time greats. And who could forget the joys of Mario Cart? Consoles like the Playstation, Gamecube and Dreamcast also played their parts in this ongoing craze, but to save time, I was simply say that they had many good and memorable moments as well. 'Nuff said really.
To summarise, these were happy times, but there has been one thing, that to my mind at least, has had the biggest influence of all on my gaming life, and that was the good old desktop personal computer.
It was a more solitary hobby than the consoles, as most of the games were either single player, or because of a notoriously poor internet connection (something that I am still battling with to this day), the early smash-hit multiplayer games and mods, past me by. It was games like Wing Commander III, Crusader and Descent that really hooked me and although my parents put quite strict limits on my game time, I loved every minute of it. As I got into my early teens (is it tweens now, or something stupid like that?) my interest in gaming almost became an obsession, and it was the PC that lead the way. If you look at my Top 20 favourites list that influence should be quite obvious, with games like the original Call of Duty, Rome: Total War, NHL 2002, and of course, the big daddy of them all, Baldur's Gate II, which is still my undisputed favourite game of all time. It was games like these that played a huge part of my life, and eventually turned from a simple hobby to a passion when they helped get me through a period of serious illness, which I am only just recovering from now. They were my one outlet at the time and were no longer just a simple distraction, something to waste-away an afternoon every now and then. They were far more than that. They were a source of inspiration, of joy, of sadness, and all the emotions that I had previously only associated to films, books, and of course, real life. I don't mean to sound overly sentimental or anything, but I do truly believe that games have the same power to move people as those more established forms of media. Perhaps even more so eventually. Who can say?
So why have I titled this article, "A Lament"? Well, the answer is quite simple really. This isn't another article about the decline of the PC gaming market, something which I personally don't recognise for the most part. One only needs to look at the MMO market (or should that be the World of Warcraft market?) or the likes of QuakeCon, and the various interesting looking upcoming titles, both main stream, indie and mod, to see that there is still a thriving PC community. No, it's more martial than that. The long and the short of it comes down to one important factor: money. Anyway you look at it a good quality gaming rig, whether you buy it whole or as parts, is pretty damn expensive, and I have just reached a point in my life where I have other commitments that need to be addressed. I no longer have the my monthly allowance so generously given by my parents over the years that I used to save like a dragon protecting it's horde, so although I can still afford a few purchases a year, it is no longer in the quantity I used to enjoy. Time is also a big factor. I'm at university now and, perhaps unusually for a student (or at least many that I've met), the course comes first, so I simply don't have the time to sink hour upon hour into a game. I'd like to keep my grades up, thank you very much. This isn't a situation that is unique to me of course. I'm sure many of you, perhaps even most of you, reading this now are in a similar position whether because of studies or work (and if you have got this far in this wall of text then well done, and sorry for taking up so much of your time). It is only the luckily few, and the sad loners, that can truly delicate both time and money on this hobby, and I am no longer in that position.
The thing that prompted me to write this was actually the imminent release of Civilization V, the latest addition to one of my favourite series. I actually preordered it, a very unusual occurrence for me, even in my hardcore days, but guess what happened a few days ago. The PC, which had been doing a lot of weird stuff lately, decided it no longer wanted to live and died in a pretty spectacular way. Typical really (although those weren't the words I used at the time). So now I'm looking at replacement parts (I don't think this is a software problem), which I'm dreading. Even a fairly modest fix is still going to be a drain on my already limited funds which means that I'm probably going to have to limit some future game-related purchases, thus adding to the annoyance.
Despite these problems and despite the expense, I just can't let the old girl go, not yet. My passion for gaming is definately still there for sure, it's just having to compete with more stuff, which, I suppose if you look at in another way, isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just sad that those carefree days of PC gaming, and gaming in general, are over for me. It's a rather melancholy thought. We all have to grow up sometimes though, I guess. Heavy man. The sooner my student days are over and I making HELL OF money I'll build me a computer that overclocks so hard it'll tip the Earth of it's god-damn axis! (just a little bit) A man can dream.
I suppose the main bullet point of this article is this: adult life, why are you killing my buzz? I hate you, and if you had a face I'd punch it. Repeatedly. Good day.