September 8th, 2011
Columnist Joel Johnson of Kotaku has a bone to pick with overzealous PC modders.
"There are two types of PC gamers," he writes. "Firstly, there are people who love PC gaming because of all the fantastic things PC games have that their console or mobile games do not: a complex, precise interface; the ability to easily extend game experiences with modifications both official and otherwise; an incredible wealth of indie and experimental games; and the best graphics and sound experience a normal human being can buy."
He continues, "Then there are the gamers who like the PC because they mistake tinkering with hardware... as some sort of engineering, despite that it's more or less electric LEGO for masochists. These tinkerers are holding back PC gaming hardware—and that includes the very benchmark by which they gauge themselves: graphics performance."
He then goes on to say that "Tinkering is a hobby, not the basis for a platform," and that the pastime shouldn't dictate the direction of the platform, much like hot rodders don't dictate the direction of the car industry.
Upon first blush, I immediately thought to myself: "But tricking out hardware is part of the fun, even if the benefits are sometimes marginal." But the more I thought about it, the more I questioned the importance of hardware tinkering. Not that it isn't important; but it's certainly lower on my "why I like PC gaming" totem pole than "precise interface, software mods, and experimental games."
And although it certainly pushes the envelope, hardware tinkering isn't necessarily required to achieve "the best graphics and sound experience a normal human being can buy." Even stock PC rigs (notably Alienwares, wink, wink) are capable of that, since they're updated several times a year with the latest and greatest improvements.
Whatever your opinion on the matter, Johnson concludes with a bold prediction. "PC gaming isn't going to die," he says. "But it's going to change. And unless PC gamers embrace that change, we're going to find ourselves increasingly marginalized, with fewer games to experience that are unique to PC."
What do you think? How would you prioritize hardware tinkering among other reasons you enjoy PC gaming?
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