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Why I hate PC Games

May 17th, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

The title exaggerates, of course. As a strategy gamer, I haven’t many choices and I have been gaming on a PC for as long as I have been gaming seriously.

But today I had to help a friend with a problem.

He is a casual gamer. He likes games and plays them quite a bit, but doesn’t read about them, can’t troubleshoot them and asks me for recommendations. The other day he asked if he should buy Rome: Total War or Pirates! Since he was already committed to buying Imperial Glory later this week, I suggested Pirates! It’s a different game than Rome and Imperial Glory and would show PC creativity at its peak.

Today he IMs me. Pirates keeps crashing and he doesn’t know why. “It meets the system requirements”, he says. I have to tell him that listed system requirements are usually no better than a guess and often lowball, but yes, his system should handle Pirates just fine.

So I ask him about his video card. He has no idea. I show him where to find this information and he tells me has Intel integrated graphics. Yes, this is a laptop.

I don’t want to tell him the bad news (that this could take a long time and still not work) so I tell him to update his drivers. In other words, I find the driver website, point him there and tell him what to do.

Then I ask if he has patched Pirates! He has no idea what I am talking about.

Don’t be hard on him. He’s a very smart guy. A successful professional, a risk taker who is midcareer change. A real stand-up guy who is a Master of Madden.

But patching is something that we PC gamers take for granted. So I link him there and talk him through the process.

He then – understandably – asks how he can get a better video card for his laptop. He’s not ready for that, yet.

All of this gets me frustrated for him. All these great games out there that require fine-tuning, downloading, updating…all those things that we serious PC gamers just take as a matter of course are flummoxing him.

If I was smarter I would have asked him more about his computer before recommending anything. Of course, none of this was an issue when I recommended Political Machine. But this type of crap is one big reason why PC games will never catch up to consoles in market share. I think that most PC games are better, more enjoyable and deeper. But they are also a pain in the ass to use unless you have been playing them for years.

This little adventure may have pushed my friend over the edge into buying a gaming desktop, since, through my evangelism, he knows there are lots of great games out there for the computer. But it’s a shame that we had to spend so much time in frustration and IM guessing game hell because he can’t play one of the best games of the last two years.


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