Over the course of my nearly decade-long stint with PCMag, I’ve written numerous articles about my love for the arcade, esports, and overall video game scene, but not how I got into those things.
For instance, I became an arcade junkie because I was too poor to own an 80s-era home computer, and my esports love grew after envy-watching various tournaments via Twitch. But how I got into PC gaming is a far more simplistic story, a tale that doesn’t touch social-economic barriers or outright sipping from the Haterade fountain. In short, I was just tired of amassing stuff.
I began console gaming in the late 1980s when my mother purchased a Nintendo Entertainment System as a Christmas gift. Between then and the 7th-console generation, I also owned a Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine, Neo Geo, PlayStation, N64, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Xbox, and Xbox 360. And, if I factor in handheld gaming, you can toss the Neo Geo Pocket, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS into the mix. That’s a lot of hardware, and even more software. Over the years, my various living spaces quickly became less about my life and more about storing controllers, limited edition game posters, video game soundtracks, cables, cartridges, and discs. I was all about that gamer life. But something had to change.
I’d been intrigued by the idea of PC gaming since discovering M.U.L.E. and Oregon Trail in my elementary school computer classes. Initially, I was drawn to the floppy discs, mice, and keyboards—hardware that was completely foreign to me—associated with the Apple II and Commodore 64. I eventually purchased a used C64 from a computer store in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, but sold it less than a year later after the family encountered some monetary issues. However, the PC gaming love still burned bright.
So, when I decided to declutter my life three years ago, I knew that my console video game collection needed a Frank Grillo-like purge as I plotted a move to a gaming desktop. It was difficult. Your things become you, as the saying goes. But as I sold off a large chunk of my console collection, I realized that I had the strength to abandon other out-of-control collections. I soon dumped most of my DVD collection in favor of digital downloads and streaming services. My print comics were soon replaced with digital versions. My gaming now revolves around a single black box: my gaming PC. I haven’t looked back.
PC gaming has been an unexpected personal boon. I no longer suffer the clutter associated with generations of game discs and instruction manuals in my entertainment center. And on bookshelves. And stashed away in closets. My games are all neatly sorted in my Steam account; I’m just a click away from an entertaining gameplay session—no need for multiple consoles vying for real estate or a snakepit of A/V cables.
And all that extra space in my crib? I’ve used it to hang art, store my bass guitar (a recent hobby I’ve adopted), and generally give the living area more room to breathe. With PC gaming, an inherently digital hobby, I’ve shattered my former collector’s mentality. I’m no longer scouring eBay or video game forums, or stopping in the many New York City-based game shops looking for a cartridge or disc to add to my collection. In that regard, PC gaming has proven incredibly freeing.
Surprisingly, the move has been far simpler than imagined. I remember a time when PC gaming carried a stigma of being inaccessible to the average joe, but I found it in the contemporary era remarkably easy—and not just because I have tech interests and proficiencies. My Steam installation is set up so that it auto-updates itself, as well as individual games. Likewise, the Nvidia GeForce Experience desktop app always keep my graphics card drivers update to date. In fact, Nvidia often releases fresh Game Ready drivers before a high-profile game hits the digital marketplaces, so I never need to hunt down the appropriate software.
As expected, there are a few console games I miss by being a PC gamer. I won’t be getting Pokemon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, the Shadow of the Colossus remake, or the new God of War. I’m perfectly fine with that, as those aren’t exactly my bags (the Yakuza series, on the other hand, very much is). But I do have Dragon Ball FighterZ’s true-to-anime fighting, multiple Ys adventures, Fire Pro Wrestling World’s strategy and theatrics, and Out of the Park Baseball’s mega-addictive sports simulations, just to name a few. Plus, Microsoft’s brilliant Play Anywhere initiative insures that Xbox One exclusives, such as the marvelous Cuphead and Forza Horizon 3, are available for play on Windows 10 desktops and laptops. I’m really not missing much. And I’m collecting even less.
That ethos has carried over to my Steam purchases. Many PC gamers lament their Steam backlogs, the tons of unplayed or underplayed games that get lost in the shuffle when players load up on new titles during the seasonal Steam sales. I very briefly suffered that ill, too. Thankfully, learning to let go of my physical console collection instilled within me the will to not give Valve full access to my bank account; I’ve been thoroughly enjoying playing through games without that backlog ghost haunting me.
All that said, I must admit that I dropped 300 bones on a
So, thank you consoles. You were gateways to many adventures in my younger days. In recent times, the catalyst to living a far more streamlined existence.