The phrase “Consoles are Better” is on the short list of verboten opinions at any PC magazine, and certainly not one I would have voiced a few years ago. I’m a PC gamer through and through, down to the bone. I didn’t have a hardcore console childhood and then drift into computer gaming as I grew older. I began gaming on computers such as the TRS-80 and Commodore 64.
But tell me: Did the C64 plug into a computer monitor on a desktop? No, it plugged into your TV and you sat on the living room floor. My first desktop PC was an 8088 with a black-and-yellow Hercules monitor, and it didn’t even have a mouse until I added a special mouse board. A bus mouse was exotic hardware, partner.
So when I say the future of PC gaming is in the living room and not on the desktop, I’m not talking heresy. I’m talking about a return to our roots. The Xbox 360, with its Windows Media Center OS and PowerPC core, doesn’t feel like a typical game machine. It feels like a proto-PC that connects to the TV. And because it’s capable of streaming media, can connect to the Internet, and of course, play games, it certainly feels like a PC. But it’s certainly not a full PC yet.
The lack of keyboard/mouse control is a major handicap, but the low player cap for certain Xbox Live games (Call of Duty 2 is limited to eight players) is an even bigger hurdle.
More to the point for gamers, however, is the promise that the distinction between a PC game and an Xbox game will vanish at some point in the next generation. Let’s face it: The PC gaming market is not as vibrant as it once was. PC gamers are more likely to get solid titles for their desktop PCs if games can be PC/Xbox hybrids right out of the box. The 360 isn’t the machine to do that, but it points the way toward a true home-entertainment/PC convergence where the standard desktop/console distinctions fall away, and everyone benefits.