What do we want games consoles for?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I want to play games!
However, as consoles have become ever more powerful, being able to perform so many functions that they can be considered full computers in their own right, there are critics who see this as a selling point of what are essentially gaming consoles.
I can half see where they are coming from, after all, if I plugged a keyboard into a PS3 I could basically write all my columns and articles on there as well as using the internet for research, while watching a bit of BBC iPlayer when I got bored. Even more so, after the most recent update to the 3DS, I can even pursue my rather obscure hobby of stop motion animation with the inbuilt camera that has to be at least as good as the web-cam I currently use.
In fact, certain critics are even saying that within a few years the PC will become completely superfluous to requirements and all we will need is our consoles.
In fact, I vehemently hope this isn’t the case.
After all, PCs are more than capable of performing the functions that consoles can perform and at the same time there are certain elements that console gaming provides that PC gaming does not.
So yes, I know that last week I planted my feet squarely and stood up for the mighty PC, but this week I think it just worth saying that consoles are kind of awesome as well.
My justification for this position is in convenience.
See, while I could sit down and plug my keyboard into a PS3 and write up this column, the effort required to do such is not convenient in any sense of the word. I would have to move my keyboard downstairs (not too much effort), download the word processing software (medium effort) and then write out my column using a program that is severely limited and not quite as functional as my PC on a screen that is much further away from my eyes than that of my PC (major effort). That is effectively why I use a PC as opposed to a PS3 for writing and generally doing more formal computer based activity, (aside from the fact that the closest PS3 I can use is about a mile away in a friend’s house). However, where consoles come into their own, in terms of convenience, is in multi-player.
Take Portal 2 as a case study. You want to play it with a friend on PC? Well sure it’s possible, but really it’s not desirable. You have to either go online a play with someone who you don’t really see as a human being because of disassociation with them over the Internet, or open the dev console and go through a middlingly awkward set of commands that will either allow you to play with a friend on your PC or alternatively freeze your copy of Portal 2. On PS3 or XBox 360? You can just have a friend pick up another controller!
In fact, I’ve heard a very good argument put forward that FIFA is one of the best games ever made! Now, I HATE FIFA. I see it as a money spinning soccer game that gets no major updates each year aside from the roster, effectively a rather shoddy and uninspired money spinner, but even so, the argument in its favour has merit. Why? Well, because the best way to enjoy FIFA is to play it with someone else on a console and through this it provides a challenging, competitive and highly enjoyable experience that you don’t tire of simply because you can play with any number of people in the same room. It’s also soccer. Here in England, EVERYONE loves soccer (or as we say, just to confuse those who aren’t English, football).
This one-on-one competitive, social experience, is exactly what makes playing on consoles so much fun. It is what has shifted so many Wii consoles so well over the last few years; not only can you play awesome games, but you can play them with other people very easily.
PCs generally don’t provide this experience. While it is easy to play against each other online, this is not the same as competing and playing with someone in the same room as you. This isn’t my usual token observance either, there are psychological studies that show how we improve socially when we play directly with other people. These social interactions are generally positive, therefore improving our level of happiness. This is an element of gameplay that PC games have almost completely failed to provide. PC games very rarely offer split-screen multiplayer. You more often have to go to a LAN party in order to play against others locally. On that note, lugging a computer halfway across a city in order to play a game with your friend on a PC is not a fun or convenient experience. It is so much simpler to bring a controller over to a friend’s house and play some Call of Duty together.
So, simply because of the convenience for having fun that console games can provide I would advocate playing console games.
Going back to the idea of consoles replacing PCs then. Well, I’d disagree. PCs have their own functions in which they are superior to consoles. At the same time though, consoles have their own areas in which they are superior to PCs.
Unfortunately, what I have covered here by no means covers the pros of consoles vs PCs … or the cons. However, hopefully I’ve made some kind of point that will stand. Namely, that while I do think of PCs as, well, brilliant, consoles are well worth a look into as well. In fact, when playing with others on consoles, it is just too easy to enjoy gaming.