Eulogy for the PC

Courtesy Zedomax

My wife’s corner of the living room is dominated by an anachronism. An aged, clunky CRT monitor squats on top of the bookshelf behind her desk. On that desk, now, is a shiny new Acer laptop with a wider display than that old beast, not to mention much faster & cleaner peformance to the oversized paperweight of a PC to which the old monitor’s connected. I keep meaning to move things around so she has a little more room, but I can’t help but look at that corner and think of Bob’s Big Picture feature on the death of the PC.

I’ve been building my own PCs for years. Ever since I got one sore knuckle and torn finger too many from the confines of a Packard Bell case, I’ve wanted to make the experience of working with computers easier and better. For years it’s also been the case that upgrading a system through the purchase of a pile of parts has been more cost-effective than buying something from a store shelf, to say nothing of the flexibility and lack of bloatware inherent with taking the construction & installation onto oneself.

But technology is moving on. My wife’s laptop cost as much as the upgrade I just put into my desktop case, and while the bleeding edge Sandy Bridge processor will satisfy computing needs for (I hope) quite a few years, her laptop is just as good. If the ancient external drive to which I’d saved our Dragon Age games hadn’t ground that data into powder, it’d have been a completely painless upgrade. That won’t happen again, of course, because not only are the hard drives we have today lightyears ahead of that dinosaur, we can always upload our save data to a cloud.

And it’s not like I need my desktop to write. I do most of these updates in a text editor (gedit, if you’re curious) before taking the content and putting it into the blog, enhanced with pictures dropped into Photobucket and the occasional bit of rambling audio. I can do that with pretty much any device. Within the next year, fingers crossed & the creek don’t rise, I’ll be retiring this old workhorse of mine with some iteration of the Asus Transformer – hell, I’d write blog updates on my Kindle if it had a decent text editor.

My point is that as much as I love my PC, as nostalgic as I’ll wax about StarCraft II marathons and isometric views in games like Dragon Age: Origins and LAN parties and simulators like Wing Commander, there’s no reason not to celebrate the growth of the technologies we as gamers use to enjoy our hobby. The tech emerging on a steady basis is lightyears ahead of what many of us grew up using. From number crunching to heat management, the computing devices we use today are so superior to those old devices it staggers the imagination. If I went back even ten years and told myself that within a decade people would be using tablets in lieu of laptops and there would be laptops that turn into tablets on the horizon, I’d congradulate myself on being such an imaginative science-fiction writer. In my humble opinion, technology changing and evolving is a good thing, and there are a lot more benefits than drawbacks when it comes to embracing that change.

The thing is, as Captain Kirk pointed out once, “people can be very frightened of change.”

“They made the game easier to play and dumbed down the mechanics! TO ARMS!”
“This has nothing to do with the previous parts of the narrative because it’s using new characters we don’t know! A PLAGUE ON EVERYONE’S HOUSES!”
“WHAT? Visual changes that make things unfamiliar/derivative/different from before? KILL IT WITH FIRE!”
“PCs are no longer inherently superior to consoles? LIES AND SLANDER, I SAY!”

Start a bandwagon and you’ll be sure to find people happy to jump aboard it without forming opinions of their own.

In fact the lemonade (haterade?) being served on TGO’s bandwagon is rather refreshing, now that you mention it.


  1. her laptop is just as good

    What. No.

    My laptop is good. It’s better than my old PC and better than your old PC, too. But it’s definitely not better than your current PC. If all you did was write it wouldn’t matter, but in a year, maybe two, this thing will not only be able to run new games at low-medium settings. Within 2-3 new games will be impossible to run. Your computer will still be going, and will be easy to upgrade (comparatively speaking) when it gets as old as your previous one was.

    If we’d spent more money on a better laptop it would probably last longer, but I’m not too concerned. My next computer can be a desktop if needs be. This thing is great for what I need it for right now, and if it can play games for a few more years, even at low settings, that’s all I can really ask.

    We can embrace technology, but if we’re talking about AAA games, we always have to be aware that we need to think about what they need to run right now, not what they might run on in 10 years. One day we might have Crysis graphics on iPads, but right now we don’t, so why say “Out with the old” when the old way is still the only viable way?

  2. It’s funny (to me at least) that my PC gaming revolves solely around MMOs. I would be perfectly content with playing Dragon Age or Mass Effect on the console. I use my phone for most surfing and could use it full time for writing in a pinch. I’ve gotten pretty proficient with the slide out keyboard on my Droid.

    MMOs keep me needing a new PC though. Rift has me wishing I had money for a new desktop.

    Maybe that is just me 🙂

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