Last month, I turned 30. Aside from my awesome videogame-themed party, the occasion arrived without much fanfare. No new social privileges or responsibilities have opened up to me, nor do I feel much different than before. There is one thing I feel entitled to now: the right to say that I’m officially too old for this s&%t. What types of s*$t, you ask? Mostly the types of stuff I’ve been griping about on this site for years: petty complaints and squabbles that I see as a complete waste of time and effort.
That brings me to the s$#t I currently feel too old for: Console Wars. I’ve felt too old for this for a looong time, but with the recent PS4 announcement I’ve seen old grudges flare up in a major way again. We stand at the dawn of the next generation of home videogame consoles. The Wii U arrived last fall, the PS4 has been unveiled and is due out this fall, and we’ll most likely see the next Xbox announced within a few months, also slated for a fall release. I try to keep up with the news, if only to have something to talk about, but whenever I read anything on the Internet I invariably make the mistake of scrolling down to the comments section of the page. And there they are: the fanboys, the detractors, the ones trying to make broad predictions based on tiny scraps of data, and all the people arguing with the aforementioned groups.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I was raised primarily on Nintendo consoles. Some of my best memories come from playing my SNES, and I currently own a Wii U, PS3, and a 3DS. I also play many games on my PC and laptop; I prefer to play first-person shooters and indie games on them if at all possible, and I love me some Steam. So, with that knowledge, feel free to keep reading or completely disregard my opinion.
Console Warriors: 360, PS3, and Wii.
Anyway, I’ve been through Console Wars and let me tell you, it’s not worth it. All you end up doing is arguing in circles over who has the best graphics, features, games, etc., when you could have saved your energy and maybe had a decent discussion about the things you enjoy, sharing positivity instead of negativity. We all like different things, and at the end of the day that’s going to affect your choice of a system and what types of games you like to play. For example, I readily admit that I’m a Nintendo fanboy. I love the bright colors and the innovative gameplay that Nintendo incorporates into their games. On the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of most first-person shooters or anything with a social component (e.g. Minecraft, MMOs). Am I offended that there are people out there who do enjoy such things? No, because I’m not a self-absorbed prick. Well, I am, just not on this issue.
Furthermore, for the people who are keeping the old Sony vs. Microsoft rivalry going (this is the fight I’ve been seeing the most of lately), you do realize the next iterations of their systems are going to be largely the same, don’t you? The 360 was distinguished by its online service, but that type of connectivity is ubiquitous in gaming and will be featured in the PS4, along with a number of other features that once made 360 gaming unique. The time has passed when non-game features could be a differentiating factor, since those features are now the norm thanks to competition within the console and mobile industries. Barring any mind-blowing developments on the level of nanotechnology that beams images directly to your brain, the systems will primarily be defined by what types of games and prices they offer. Most likely, we’ll see sports and FPS titles continue to dominate the next Xbox, while RPGs and adventure/action games will dominate the PS4. Costs for hardware and software will definitely be interesting to watch, as we may actually see digital downloads start to drive down prices, and whoever manages to jump on that bandwagon stands to make a lot of money (see: Steam). But that’s a completely nebulous concept for consoles at the moment, so it’s not really worth arguing about. Unless you’re the aforementioned self-absorbed prick who is offended by people having different tastes than you.
So various console fanboys: please chill the hell out. I’ve been hearing you all whine and complain for decades, and I am officially too old for this s$*t now.
Moving on, I’ve started seeing a lot of PC gamers using the announcement of new consoles to lament how the clearly superior PC platform is being made to suffer by having to cater to inferior, locked-down machines. They make complaints that game developers are wasting resources by having to make games run on consoles, and that major developers should just give up and publish all of their stuff on Steam. I can’t blame PC gamers too much for falling prey to this mindset, as those who have been exclusive to PCs for most of their lives haven’t been through the Console Wars (then again, they’ve dealt with the Mac vs. PC and Intel vs. AMD debates, so maybe less slack is warranted). Anyway, while I suppose it could be true that assets used to create console games could go toward making games better in general, it’s a straw man argument that ignores the fact that we’re reaching the limits of how much can be improved over the course of a generation of consoles. Yes, the graphics on the 360 and PS3 are outdated compared to PCs now, but with the next gen they’ll be right back up there. How much more HD and life-like can we get at this point? PCs have less room to expand in this area, and arguing that the improved processing power of a PC can create more like-life worlds is bunk; compare GTA IV or Skyrim on consoles and PC, and try to tell me there’s a tremendous difference in gameplay. As far as I’m concerned, the only major benefit PC-gaming presents over console gaming is the ability to mod various games, but that’s always an iffy proposition from a game balance and stability perspective.
Also, please permit me a quick, curmudgeonly side rant. Sometimes, I just want to play a goddamn game. With PC games, I always have to worry if I have the right drivers, that there’s no background processes running, that my connection to Steam is up, etc. With a console, I don’t have to worry about these things. Sure, I encounter occasional bugs and crashes on consoles, but no where NEAR the amount I encounter in PC games. Why? Because it’s a hell of a lot easier to design to one standard set of parameters instead of having to account for the individual specs of every possible PC configuration out there. And all of the social gaming aspects that PC gamers (and to a lesser extent, 360 gamers) say make PC the clearly superior platform? If I felt like being social, I’d go out. Videogames are ME time, and unless I’m inviting people over for Smash Bros., I’ll thank you to leave me alone.
Sorry, that rant’s been stewing for a while.
Anyway, I guess my point is this: EVERYONE, get over yourselves. Play the games you like on the systems you like, and let everyone else do the same. Feel free to discuss the merits of said systems in a respectful manner, but don’t start hating on someone because they currently or potentially do something differently than you. At the end of the day we’re all gamers, and we all enjoy this wonderful medium that allows us to experience things outside of everyday lives. And yes, in the future things will definitely change, but it will probably happen in ways that no one can predict. Besides, things rarely change in ways that completely obliterate the old ways so whatever you enjoy now will most likely still be available in the future. So press pause, chill out, and just enjoy the various gaming platforms for what they are.
After all, humanity has never had problems respecting other’s differences before. Right?