Platform Tectonics: Tools of the Trade

Platform Tectonics: Tools of the Trade

Sometimes I really don’t get it. I don’t understand hardcore gamers of particular creeds. Most prominent example: The PC gamer. The hardcore PC gamer: who defines himself as the kind of person who does NOT play ‘videogames’ but ‘computer games’, and who thus with tooth and claw refuses to play a game with anything but mouse and keyboard. Or maybe, if it’s one of those flight sims with phonebook sized manuals that could stop a .50 AE round, they might let themselves down to use a joystick (or rather a flightstick). Never, ever would such a gamer touch a gamepad. Gamepads are for idiots, for those unwashed masses who can play games that need less buttons than a keyboard has. 

Funny enough, I never hear complaints from console gamers about similar things. Bah, another PC game on my console! Well, those things exist. Just look at the original Dragon Age: Origins. Great game on PC; horrible console port. That term works both ways it seems. Console gamers just don’t seem to have the need to surround themselves with that arrogant air of ivory tower elitism that comes with the hardcore PC crowd. Console gamers just play games and rarely bitch about things. 

Now, you might say the reason for that is that console gamers are pampered baby-men idiots who get first-class treatment by the industry which makes games for consoles first and for PC second. There is a grain of truth in that sentiment. A lot of AAA games these days are indeed made primarily for consoles, which by itself is not a bad thing. These games by and large also get released on PC, where PC gamers then start bitching and moaning about how badly these games work with mouse and keyboard. 

But here’s the thing: if these games work so badly with mouse and keyboard, that’s due to their design.

But here’s the thing: if these games work so badly with mouse and keyboard, that’s due to their design. Most games these days are not designed to be played with office equipment. And now don’t start arguing with me about how your gaming keyboards with anti-ghosting and super high DPI laser mice are not office equipment. You know this to be true. Those devices were not designed to game, they were designed to write and, well, point and click on things. The refined technology that makes them good for gaming doesn’t mean that the very basic idea of a keyboard is that of a device made for gaming. 

So instead of playing games designed to be used with gaming devices, these folks insist on playing games with their pimped-out office input thingies. And then they bitch and moan about things that don’t work. There are cheap and easy ways around this whole conundrum. If you like playing games, own a powerful gaming PC, and realize “most good games for PC these days are console ports”, why-oh-why would you then not buy a gamepad? Why play console games — because if you play Arkham City or Assassin’s Creed on your PC, make no mistake, in that instant your PC is in fact no different from a console — with such an archaic set of input devices, devices which just were not meant for these games? 

And I won’t even argue that there are indeed games where using these archaic non-game input devices have their place: in fast-paced PC first shooters, in complex strategy games. Sure. Games that were — from the ground up — developed for this input method. It would be foolish to attempt playing games like those with a gamepad, and in most cases, it isn’t even possible.

And that’s where I don’t get it. Every trade has its tool. The console-borne action-adventure has the gamepad. The 4-x strategy game has mouse and keyboard. So the strange noises the hardcore PC crowd makes when an obvious console game doesn’t play well with their archaic tools seem insanely strange to me. Especially since gaining proficiency with a gamepad really isn’t that hard — if it was, the hardcore crowd has to explain to me again how console gaming is “dumb”. Also, gamepads are cheap. Just look at your super-high-DPI mouse’s pricetag and compare it with that of the wired Xbox 360 controller. So price can’t be the problem.

The only point I arrive at is that this particular crowd has become a bunch of old geezers who just love to rant about how modern times suck and how much better everything was when things were still done the old way. It’s like complaining about a car because there’s no way to put a horse in front of it. It’s refusal to accept the way things are. Dogmatic, clogged up thinking. I get it that some people might just not like playing with gamepads. But if that’s the case, then please don’t try playing games that were made for them with anything but and then complain about it. 

Finally, yes, there are a lot of shoddy ports on all sides. I had a lot more fun playing Deus Ex Human Revolution on my PC than I had on my PS3. But not due to the input method — since I kept using my gamepad on the PC — but due to better graphics and loading times which the PS3 version failed pretty hard at. And yes, there are lots of sub-par ports of console games on PC. Ports that don’t work with certain GPUs: those just fail on the technical side of things. And of course there are those which work not too greatly with mouse and keyboard. But guess what, dear PC hardcore crowd. Embrace the multi-functionality of the gaming platform of your choice and get a gamepad, which, due to those bad ports being made for console, is an input device that’s very well supported in 90% of all cases. Embrace the gamepad, abandon dogma. Approach each trade with the proper tools. You wouldn’t bring a knife to a gunfight now, would you?