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The Console vs. PC Gaming Debate
Today's gaming world is undoubtedly dominated by the console gamer. With platforms like the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii, who can blame them. These machines are the fastest of their kind to date. Cutting edge graphics, built in Wi-Fi, social media, and entertainment hubs all bundled into one affordable package. However, there is another popular system out there that seems to be fading into the realm of pocket calculators and portable cd-players. That system is the Personal Computer. Now of course computers will still be used for web surfing and e-mailing, but once upon a time they were arguably the best gaming platform around. The days of Doom, Counter Strike Source, The Sims, all games that at one time were only available on the PC, seem to be fading fast. There is not much that a PC can do for gamers today that cannot be or is not already offered by these mega consoles. Online gaming was, at one time, a huge advantage to PC players. That has been thrown out the window with features such as Xbox Live and Playstation Network. Being able to connect quickly with friends and playing together as a team without the need of sharing a console and TV is another benefit to these advancements in console networking.
Putting today's consoles head to head with modern "gaming" computers is not an easy task, but I'm going to give it my best to not be biased to either side. Now I am going to break a cardinal sin in console gaming here and lump them all into a category of simply "consoles" for arguments sake. There will always be some things that one console does slightly better than the others, but for the most part they are fairly comparable. The PC is another beast entirely, however. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the two sides.
The biggest pro that consoles have going for them is their price. Today's consoles max out at around $500, for what they offer the price is extremely reasonable. A mid level gaming computer is going to run around $700 - $1000 if you want to run the newest games on high settings. Consoles are also much more portable than a true gaming rig. They can be brought into vehicles that are compatible, to occupy children for example. Speaking of children, that brings me to the first con of the consoles. The lower price usually means for easier access to these consoles by a much younger crowd. This is not always a con, but if you've gotten into the lobbies with the children being children then you know what I'm getting at. Yes, I know you can always mute them, but it is a con nonetheless. The next downside to the console is the additional monthly fee to use the online features for the Xbox360. The PS3 is exempt from this one as its online capabilities are bundled into the higher initial cost of the platform. The last issue I have with the consoles are their controllers. Now this is a very controversial con, as many people seem to have no problem what so ever with these controllers. Personally I feel that if I were to pick up a console controller and a mouse / keyboard setup for the first time, I would learn the latter much faster. The 1:1 movement that a mouse provides (I play primarily FPS games) is much easier to get accustomed to than the limited movement capabilities of the analog sticks. If you do not play first person shooter games, then this could be ignored.
The gaming PC has two major negative marks against it from the get-go. First the price, as mentioned earlier, a decent gaming PC is going to put a hurting on your wallet. The next is cheating. PC games have a MUCH harder time with cheaters. Because the files and coding are so easily available and the ability for players to do simple search engine searches for "cheats for X" PC games get bombarded with hackers quite frequently. The only real defense against this is the dedicated server system. Which in itself can be a positive or negative. Players have the ability to regulate their own servers, often setting their own rules outside of the defaults provided by the game. The downside is that the servers are often not cheap and cost a monthly fee to keep running, unless a player can host their own server (these often do not run as well as a professionally run server.)
Much of the dispute between consoles and gaming PCs boil down to pure preference. I personally play my FPS games on PC and sports / racing games on console. I also love my console for watching Netflix or Blu-ray movies. For a new gamer just getting into the trade, I would personally recommend going with a console. I think if you take the time to adapt to the controller it can become as comfortable as a mouse and keyboard is for PC gamers.