In 1943 Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, said, “I think there’s a world market for maybe five computers.” Ralph H. Baer, inventor of the first ever video game console said “There’s nothing in the Bible that says ‘You must play video games’”.
Many years later, those quotes sound ridiculous. The world of gaming has reached an international level of acclaim and has become the cornerstone of entertainment during the digital age. But one thing that has lingered since practically the beginning of this home entertainment system setup is the age-old debate: PC or console? Obviously there are LOADS of contenders for both sides, so what we aim to do is list the personal insights from both Ruby and Cameron as a sort of gaming shootout.
Consoles were the origin point for many gamers in the past. They varied in game choice and design and function, but ultimately they were marketed as a leisure tool that you could play games on. At the time of the first consoles, such as the ZX Spectrum where you had to type in the game code and wait an hour every time you died, they were seen as a new gadget, or even a short-lived fad by many others. However, this didn’t deter Cameron and Ruby who both had a shared background on the humble powerhouse Playstation 2. But like many, there came a time when one began to favour the PC and the other stuck to consoles.
Cameron’s insight into his journey began from an unusual starting point. “My journey through the world of gaming started on the PS2. The first game I played was “Peter Pan The Legend of Neverland” which was by no means a triple A game for its time but it still gave me the gaming bug. From there I started to dive in and see what other games were out there. I got into game series’ such as Jak and Daxter, Need for Speed, Prince of Persia, Spider-Man and more. I later went on to explore the games of the original PS1 with games like Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and Rayman. After being on ‘Team Blue’ for so long, I later decided to switch to ‘Team Green’ with the arrival of the Xbox 360 and a new addiction to Halo.
Ruby grew up watching her older siblings mess about with the famous console breakouts of the early 2000s such as Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto, along with relatively unknown niche games like Colin McRae Rally. When she was six, she bought her first ever PS2 game for herself, a momentous game called… Shrek 2. Despite its unassuming title and gameplay, it introduced a kid-friendly experience to her young explorative mind that hasn’t been forgotten to this day. As she got older, the curiosity of those old hand-me-down games grew bigger and bigger. Over an arduous period of many years following favourite franchises across the PS3 and PS4, Ruby now considers herself to be a bit of a collector of retro games due to her love of the art and history found in them. Even now, Ruby has a YouTube channel called BRAINSTEM (shameless self promotion) where she infrequently reviews PS2 games for fun!
Cameron goes on to say: “So if my love of gaming started on console, why did I join the (*cough cough*) better side? I still love console gaming, however I just can’t get past how limiting they are. My younger brother migrated to PC long before I ever did as most of his friends were PC gamers and my friends were all console players so I never really felt the need to transition. That all changed, however, after my brother upgraded his graphics card and I saw it… the truth… the 100 frames I had been missing, sooooo buttery smooth. So I decided to save up, build my own gaming PC to play… Fortnite. Don’t judge me, it was early Fortnite before the sweats came in and cross-platform made the switch easier.”
On the whole, two very different backstories.
For Ruby, console gaming is about the purity of the experience in a different way to Cameron’s. As someone who spends most of the day working on her PC and writing articles just like this one, she finds a sense of catharsis and relaxation moving to a widescreen TV and a machine designed purely for indulging in a gaming fantasy. Due to her personal unique taste in games (single-player story driven games and stealth action), being able to immerse yourself in a new story and a new world is always a welcome experience, completely unaware of the surprises that lay ahead.
Cameron’s process from fledgling gamer to PC powerhouse has been continually in progress: “My experience on PC was strange as I had to get used to a lot of things such as using a keyboard and mouse, the pace of competitive PC gaming and learning to use Discord. Once I adjusted and knew my way around I started exploring the new games available to me. PC offers a much wider range of games to play as there are far more indie developers looking to recapture the nostalgia of games. As PC games don’t have the pressure of needing to succeed like console games do (unless of course it’s a AAA title), indie game studios have the freedom to explore new game concepts and revisit less popular game types that people still enjoyed playing. Gaming started on PC and there are developers working hard to recapture that.
Since console games often lack the availability of “modding” (the act of modifying pre-existing game content) and including additional content, the games themselves have to be filled to bursting point with well-crafted features and complimentary design, like adding chocolate chips to an already delicious ice cream cone. But for Ruby, the idea of messing with a well-crafted artistic story is too much of a misstep, like putting fried onions on top of ice cream instead. You could argue the same is true for PC games, but since modding is so readily available nowadays there are always people trying to alter the original formula for better or worse. When done right, the experience of gaming on console ushers in a more laid-back and pure experience. Everything is provided for you from the get-go, and while convenience can be seen as a selling point, it also makes things less stressful.
Cameron, on the other hand, has built the awesome neon-shrouded setup you can see here by himself. “There are so many styles and themes to choose from when building an entire PC setup. It almost takes a level of interior design when you really get into it. Choosing a theme, colours, decorations, layout and more you can have a lot of fun and get very creative with it.”
Today, console gaming is under a lot of fire. Game development studios are being absorbed and dismantled seemingly on a monthly basis, and the price of new games is always a contentious issue. However, things may not be that bleak when we look at the track record. A brand new PS2 AAA game would cost roughly $50 or just under £35. Twenty years on, the same prices are offered for the latest games being released, meaning that video games have survived the inflation squeeze unlike most other products. Where consoles are going up in price, console games are staying the same. This bodes well for the entertainment products, but the developers need to have a rethink about their marketing strategy.
Ruby personally wants developers to embrace the indie scene once again, like in the glory days of the PS2 where any small studio could publish a fresh game concept without much backlash. Granted, for every artistic vision like “ICO” or “Killer7”, there were ten shovelware equivalents like “Driver 3” or “Smarties Meltdown”, but back then the gaming scene wasn’t afraid to embrace something new, artistic, exciting or even crazy. Even nowadays the latest AAA developers are playing it safe, with the advent of E3 2021 promoting remakes of previous releases and tired old fantasy RPGs rather than ushering in a new welcome wave of artistic diversity. Perhaps the PC venue and console developers should collaborate for future endeavours, doing away with exclusive releases and instead promoting the diversity and sense of nostalgia we crave in the Digital Age.
It’s fair to say that this argument doesn’t seem to be going away soon. Believe it when we say both PC and console backers can and will argue for days on end, because Ruby and Cameron have been debating this topic non-stop, and they both show no sign of stopping. Perhaps this rivalry, then, is a good thing: keeping the competition and community talking about an entertainment form in so many ways, based on their experiences, perception, enjoyment, goals and so on. One person’s artistic insight doesn’t invalidate another person’s opinion, and so long as there’s a level of tolerance, then video games as a medium continue to download their way into people’s hearts and minds from all generations…
[Cameron’s Edit:] …*whispers* PC is better.