I had prepared for my first trip to PAX the way I must prepare for everything else: through rigorous research, planning, and incessant pestering of my friends. What kind of water bottle should I bring? Collapsible. Pain killers? More than one kind, just in case someone you’re with is allergic to one. Hand sanitizer? Apply liberally to everything. Even that child? Especially that child. Sneakers? Don’t forget the gel insoles. Zinc and vitamin C? Begin a rigorous course three weeks prior and bring some with you just in case.
Various publications confirmed what we’ve already known for a while, Valve is likely getting into the business of hardware and will offer us something mysterious in 2013, a living room computer?! A multitude of gaming publications including Kotaku report that as early as next year Valve could start releasing their fancy “steam box” (nickname) to change up the way people play PC games . So why the heck should you care? Behold!
Steam recently released their T.V. friendly Big Picture mode which is undoubtedly the first step in a bold new direction. For many years I was almost exclusively a PC gamer. Long ago, the gap in quality between PC games and those on the console were severe. In the early 2000s consoles were utterly incapable of providing the type of experience a solid gaming PC could produce. Games like Planetside, Battlefield 1942, and Team Fortress were then unavailable on console, and were some of the most widely adored and acclaimed shooters of that generation. By comparison, console games in 2002 were pretty awful, and it wasn’t until Halo came around that people realized that consoles could be the home for serious shooters (no, Golden Eye does not count). So what happened? Console technology finally caught up to the ol’ PC, and gamers much rather spend 300 dollars on a console, than thousands on a high end PC. Now before you roast me alive, I want you all to realize I’m really just playing Devil’s advocate here. I GET PC gaming, I really do, but consoles are a more social experience, and that’s where I think Valve’s living room PC fits right in.
PC gaming is something most players do when they’re by themselves. The current interface limits social interaction due to the way PCs traditionally are set up. I would venture to say that most PC players have a desk in a dark corner of their homes someplace where they can play in peace on their 20 inch monitor. Console gaming has become a visually pleasing social experience, with HD graphics (hopefully on a large T.V.), surround sound, and a comfy couch nearby. Valve wants to make these qualities easily accessible to the PC gaming community, and I couldn’t agree more.
Having a simple to use living room PC with proprietary upgradeable hardware would allow players to get the best of both worlds; a PC quality gaming system that can be enjoyed by all on their living room television. So will I buy a living room PC? Day 1. How about you? Sound off.