The first time I played a video game, it was on a computer. Floppy disks were involved—the kind that actually flopped—as was dying of dysentery. I got sucked into working for Interpol not long after, who kept me busy chasing a notorious woman in a red trench coat across the globe.
But eventually I discovered games that didn’t require changing disks. You could just pop in a cartridge, sit, and…play. (Well, until one of the adults hollered that you’d been at the TV long enough.) And what magic it was! My cousin had all the classics for his original Nintendo Entertainment System: Duck Hunt, Contra, Paperboy, Super Mario Bros., and best of all, Double Dragon.
That marked my first switch from PC to console, thanks to an extended loan of the NES. It was a move that lasted decades, too, with a single exception. (At one point, I got talked into trying Duke Nukem 3D multiplayer on my family’s feeble PC and its vintage 14.4 baud modem.) Then the pandemic hit and I found myself all but glued to my PC. Work, social Zoom calls, marathon YouTube and Netflix sessions—I did it all parked at my desk. It became easier to play games on the machine, too, since I had an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. I was also using gaming to stay in touch with friends.
The worst of the pandemic has passed now, however. My life has changed too—as has my body. And so, once again, console gaming has lured me back.
The other side: Why I switched from console gaming to PC gaming
At the beginning of the pandemic, my PC was supremely convenient as an all-purpose machine. Now, it’s a little too much. I find myself still always anticipating the ping of work email, personal email, Slack, and Discord. I never really give myself the opportunity to disconnect.
My hip flexors have also become one knotted blob. Forcing myself to leave my seat reminds me to move around more—play games at the TV, take a phone call in an arm chair, go wild and eat dinner at a dining room table. I’m more likely to get in more physical activity, too, like a spot of push-ups or a little dancing down the hallway. Maybe that stretching I’m supposed to be doing regularly.
The games I like are on console
While Microsoft makes its games available on both Xbox and PC, Sony is still much slower with its PC ports—when there’s even plans for such a move. I’ve been antsy to finally get to Ghost of Tsushima and Horizon Forbidden West, but with all my time spent on my PC, those games have been stuck in limbo for me.
For better or worse, most of what I gravitate to usually releases on console first—and sometimes never crosses over to PC. I also tend to zero in on gameplay and storylines rather than graphical bells and whistles (as much as I like badass graphics cards). If I were more into the diverse indie scene on PC, perhaps I’d still stick with gaming on my computer, but that’s not where my heart lies.
I don’t know about other people, but sitting at my desk uninterrupted for hours and hours each day for over two years did a number on my vision. (Also, I’ve not gotten any younger.) When I started feeling a delay in my ability to switch focus distances, I knew I’d been forcing too much close-up work on my eyes.
Sitting on a couch many feet away from a TV—and having a large screen that makes everything huge and easy to see—changes up where I train my eyes. And the different scenery also reinforces the need to go outside and actually look off into the distance during a walk.
I got tired of troubleshooting
Before someone bursts in with a comment that PC gaming doesn’t require that much maintenance—yes, occasional driver updates and maybe some light troubleshooting isn’t too bad…if you’re not otherwise doing that constantly.
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I know I’m not a typical person. I use five different PCs for work purposes—then I still keep tablets and phones on hand for work reference as well. I also have my own personal computers, too. When an Overwatch session with friends would go to a black screen because I had Photoshop open at the same time, I didn’t take it nearly as in stride as perhaps a true PC gamer would.
It’s nice turning on my Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 and having both system updates and games work seamlessly. Plus, I love the modern Xbox controller. I find it extremely comfy. And no one gives me grief for not playing shooters with a mouse and keyboard. (Try doing that on my mushy ergonomic keyboard and mouse and let me know how you like it.)
Looking at my console collection makes me happy
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. I also recall memories far more easily when looking at physical objects. So, seeing consoles from my youth sitting side by side with more modern systems (plus the boxes for my favorite games) lets me fondly remember my favorite moments with friends and family, whom I don’t see nearly as often as when we were young.
My inner Young Alaina still also gets a kick from having enough money to afford all those systems. We made it, girl.