Street Fighter at LANcouver 2013

I believe it was during the expert hardware panel at LANcouver 2013 this past weekend that I got into a brief discussion with Patti from Asus. When I told her that I am a console gamer, she gave a look of disgust and said that she couldn’t be my friend anymore. It was all in jest, to be sure, but it did make me think. It’s an age-old debate that will never be put to rest. Is it better to play video games on consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 or is it better to play the games on a PC instead?

For my part, I am primarily a console gamer and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon. Let me explain.

I Grew Up on Consoles

While I did dabble in some PC games over the years, like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Warcraft II, I grew up playing on consoles. From Contra on the NES to Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64, I have always felt the most comfortable with a controller in my hands rather than having a keyboard and mouse in front of me. Especially given the line of work that I do today, I have come to associate the computer more with the world of work rather than with the world of play.

In my family, for the longest time, we’d only really have the one computer between us. However, we’d usually have multiple televisions and I could usually get my hands on whatever console we had at the time. Given this, I had far more opportunity to play on the SNES, N64, GameCube and so on than I did on the PC. If I had greater access to the PC, I may have played more Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem, but it just didn’t turn out that way.

My Preferred Genres Are on Console

And this lends itself to another major point. On the PC, you’ll find a lot of great first-person shooters and real-time strategy games, but I’m not particularly good at either of those, nor do I feel particularly inclined to play them. By contrast, the game genres that do interest me are found predominantly on consoles.

I used to enjoy action-adventure side-scrolling type games and those were found primarily on consoles. I like multiplayer sports games, like the NHL series from EA, and that’s mostly on console too. And it’s no secret that I’m a fan of Street Fighter and other fighting game. While Street Fighter IV is available on PC (and some argue that it’s a better experience there overall), there are far more fighting games that end up on Xbox and PlayStation. The console is the de facto way to play King of Fighters, Street Fighter, Marvel, Injustice, Mortal Kombat and whatever else.

Gaming Should Be Easy

This is going to be a point of contention for a lot of people and I realize not everyone is going to agree with me, but bear with me anyway.

For me, playing video games is mostly a leisure activity. I want to just pop in the disc (or cartridge), turn it on, and enjoy myself. Traditionally, on the PC, you could spend a fair bit of time tweaking the settings for this reason or that. This has improved in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, but I still find myself wanting to take the path of least resistance and that’s with the console.

Graphics Are Secondary

One of the more prominent arguments used by the pro-PC side of the debate is that the PC will always offer better hardware, better graphics and better physics than its console counterpart. And yes, this is mostly true. I can appreciate great graphics as much as the next guy, but good-looking visuals are further down the priority list for me.

Consider this: to this day, some of my favorite games of all-time have decidedly simple graphics. I like Tetris. I like retro side-scrollers. I like Internet Reversi, of all things. For me, the game has to be fun, first and foremost. Even when you look at a massive tournament like Evo 2013, they typically use the “training stage” for the Street Fighter matches. This eliminates the fancy graphics of the animated backgrounds and drills it down to the purest gameplay.

Do I like how Street Fighter IV looks? Sure, but even if the graphics weren’t as nice, I think I’d like it just as much. Good graphics are the icing on the cake, but the cake itself has to be tasty.

Bridging the Great Divide

The gaming landscape is changing. Both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 use more PC-like architecture than previous generations and what this means is that it will be easier for developers to port titles between the different platforms, including Windows PCs. This could result in a greater variety of games for both consoles and PCs, since that great divide is being bridged. And then you have game-changing devices (bad pun intended) like the NVIDIA SHIELD, which allows you to stream your PC games to a console-like handheld controller. The line between PC and console is getting blurrier by the day.

That said, I find there is still great division among the gaming community. When I was at LANcouver, it was clear that fewer people were interested in playing Street Fighter at the Canadian Joysticks booth than there were people interested in new PC hardware to better play Starcraft or League of Legends. There are some gamers that span that divide, to be sure, but it seems they are still largely the exception rather than the rule. What do you think? Do you play both console and PC? Do you prefer one over the other?