Digital Diatribes: What Your PC Gaming Elders Never Told You

July 20, 2007

It’s a glorious world for modern gamers. The latest ‘next-gen’ consoles are out in full swing, game designers are even more talented, focused, and funded than ever and there are so many great games out there for every genre and platform that gamers’ twitch-trained fingers can’t hope to play ’em all. But for every silver lining there’s a dark cloud – or at least that’s how the saying applies for PC gamers.

PC gaming has become the fiery-haired stepchild of modern gaming platforms in the public mind-trust and it’s mainly our fault – us old school PC aficionados – not any inherent weaknesses of the computer as a gaming system. We grew complacent in the surety that the most powerful hardware, open expandable architecture, and founding position as the first wide-spread gaming platform was more than enough to keep PC gaming shining in the spotlight forever.

‘In Video Cards We Trust’ was our mantra and nothing had a chance, in our opinion, to topple our reign as the system with the deepest gameplay, prettiest graphics, and most ubiquitous multi-player options.

Yet somewhere along the way, in between day-long Civilization benders and late-night caffeine-fueled World of WarCraft raids, we’ve stopped sharing with friends (or anyone who might listen) why our chosen gaming platform rocks and rocks hard.

We’ve become content to let our associates, children, and fellow gamers slip away to worship at the alter of ease-o-matic, plastic button-mashing, next-gen consoles. It’s not an issue of any system being that much better or cooler than the others – it’s never been that – it’s simply a matter of word of mouth and social transference. We’ve done a crappy job of grass-roots promotion and basic gaming education.

It’s become disappointingly commonplace to hear the same ol’ urban, anti-PC propaganda strewn about with nary a peep from the old (or young) guard to defend and debunk these ‘myths’. You’re probably familiar with the most egregious ones: ‘PCs are TOO expensive to be viable gaming platforms’ or ‘PCs are too complicated to use’, or ‘Game consoles just work, PC gaming is too buggy’. None of these are difficult to refute yet we sit idly by, content to let the naysayers besmirch our chosen gaming platform. That’s the true dilemma here.

We’ve become, as a gaming sub-type, the quiet majority. It’s widely accepted that the PC is by far the largest gaming platform in the world and yet that fact is rarely trumpeted by any of us. It’s another known fact that anyone can build a relatively inexpensive gaming PC, one that’ll easily run the latest and greatest games on very acceptable graphic settings, and yet again we say nothing. Modern PCs and their operating systems have become more and more stable and easy to use than ever and still mum’s the word from us.

When a political lobby group has an axe to grind, their first action is to ‘get the word out’ about their issue or concern. Knowledge is power, and to power-up (pun intended) our first-choice platform we have to start educating our fellow gamers in the realities and benefits of PC gaming. Electronic gaming didn’t start with a Nintendo or Sega system, it started on mainframe computers – yet younger gamers aren’t aware of that fact. Today’s gaming media have marginalized the PC to a certain extent, talking about the platform wars as being a three-way battle, but never admitting that one of those platforms will probably never be beaten for sheer numbers of hardware sold – the PC.

These are critical bits of gaming knowledge that need to be passed down or onward to our current generation of gaming fanatics. Without word of mouth and enthusiasm from us, tantamount to the passing of verbal legends and heroic stories in ancient times, we’re allowing an entire generation to miss out on a huge portion of their gaming heritage and worse, the opportunity to game on what is quite possibly the deepest of all the gaming systems in sheer variety of genres and creativity of game design.

‘Next-gen’ gaming never needed to ‘arrive’, it’s always been here in the form of your friendly, neighborhood gaming computer – now it’s time for us PC gamers to spread the word.

[Anthony DuLac is a nine-year veteran of the US Navy and currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his lovely wife, their unborn child, one dog, a herd of mischievous cats, and several unruly dust-bunnies. Along with writing for SnackBar Games he’s also a regular contributor to PC Gamer and]