Monday, September 1, 2008

Jumping in with both feet

I have to start off by saying that I've always been a computer gamer. I've had games on my computer ever since my Commodore 64 in 1983. From there I graduated through different PCs with better and better games. But then my funds started to find priorities elsewhere (read 'home renos') and my home computer kept getting more and more out of date. Games on the PC keep pushing the limits of technology, and my computer is well past it's 'best before' date for new games. Of late I've resorted to using my much newer work laptop for my gaming.

In all of this time, I'd been a believer that, since I gamed on my computer, it would be a waste of money to have a dedicated gaming console. And my friends have always been in the same boat with me. As a result of this, I've gotten about zero experience with gaming consoles, other than hearing the hype that swirled in the media when the big new consoles were released - always prior to Christmas when the demand for such silicon crack is at its highest.

As I surfed through Future Shop, Best Buy, or any other store that I've always checked out for computer games to pine after, I'd notice that the real estate given over the consoles keeps growing. This was distressing as it meant that the developers of games were putting more effort into consoles, and less into 'ports' - i.e. games brought over - ported - to the PC market.

Speaking of ports, I bought Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 last year (like the auto industry, they don't understand what year they are in) for my laptop. I've had golf games on every computer I've had since the C-64... it's like an addiction, what can I say? The website extolled the many new features. When I bought it, I expected to see some of them that sounded especially interesting. Imagine my disappointment when they were not there! Checking more closely, I saw that I had been had. The new features were for the next-gen consoles only.

Earlier this year I started to look into the world that is console gaming. It's bloody confusing when you're a total neophyte. First, you have to choose a platform. It's not called a 'brand', it's a 'platform'. I think this is a ploy to prevent people over the age of 25 from getting too excited, we hear 'platform' and think 'elections'. And then it's a question of which one is best suited for me. Words get tossed around like 'casual gamer', 'enthusiast', and of course 'hard-core gamer'. Why does it seem to me like a 'hard-core' gamer is a 20-something guy who lives in his parents basement? And why, to have one of the next-gen consoles, do you have to consider yourself a hard-core gamer in order to qualify for the best technology?

After I had put aside the money to get the console that I wanted - a Playstation 3 (PS3 in the venacular), Mrs. Spit and I paid a visit to our nearby Best Buy location. Imagine my surprise when I was told that "We don't have the 80Gb system that you're thinking of." Huh?!? Turns out that the backwards compatible system is not being sold any more. Good thing I don't have a raft full of old PS1 and PS2 games that I need to maintain compatibility with! After some contemplation over my decision (as the 80 gig was priced the same as the 40 gig machine) I decided to get the PS3.

Alas! There was a fly in the ointment! Mrs. Spit was hoping to play some Mario Brothers when we got the console home. Imagine her surprise when the nice kid (he looked about 16) told her that Mario is only available on the Nintendo systems. Well, this brought around a casual walk over the the Wii section of the store. Aha! Mario is available on the Wii. But this is a whole different console. I had planned on getting one a while after the PS3. There are more 'casual gamer' games on the Wii that Mrs. Spit and I could play together.

So after some more discussions, consternation, waffling (mostly on my part) we broke down and bought the consoles. Yes, you did see the plural there. We bought both the PS3 and the Wii. Plus an extra controller for both. Plus games for both. Plus the service plan for both (in case they break - which the fine kid at the till told us happens a lot). Which games? Well, on the Wii we have Lego - Star Wars Complete, and Super Mario Paper. It also came with Wii Sports. Over on the PS3, I got the game I really was wanting - Gran Tourismo 5 Prologue (actually a demo you pay for of the real GT5 coming out later this fall) and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09.

Yes, you can picture us as a couple of kids in a candy shop that just got handed $50 and told to 'have fun'. But what I want to know is, does having consoles make us cool yet? We asked out new 15 year old neighbour, but she wasn't talking much at that point. I think she smiled shyly though... it could have been the 20 minutes we had spent trying to get her to string more than three words together.

Now we need to go replace our hand-me-down 27" CRT TV with something that will actually let us use the BlueRay high-def 1080p capability of the PS3. Yeah, there's another kettle of fish yet to be cooked!


Mrs. Spit said...

We are such geeks. Pretty sad when $1100 doesn't buy coolness.

Joanna said...

I think $1100 buys you coolness, but I'm 26, am I young enough to be able to say that?