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Tue 31 Jan 2006 04:00 AM

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PC pleasure isn’t dead

No, I’m not referring to visiting websites that you shouldn’t, I’m talking about gaming. You see when we polled the readers of Windows Middle East and itp.net recently, we discovered that although Sony’s PS2 is regarded as the cream of the current gaming crop, it didn’t edge out its PC competition by much at all (less than one per cent in fact). And, unlike the PS2, a PC can save your marriage…

|~||~||~|In our poll, 40.1% of the readers we quizzed reported that the PS2 rules the roost, but this was followed very closely by the tried and trusted PC, which gained a whopping 39.39% of the popular vote. (Meanwhile, Microsoft’s first-generation Xbox, rolled into third position with less than half this figure – a measly 18.18%.)

What do these results say about gaming platforms and the role of the PC? Well, to my mind, it’s effectively one in the ear to those industry doomsayers (most often console vendors and sellers) who claim that PC gaming is on its way out. So let me explain why desktops (and indeed well-specified notebooks) still have so many fans…

For a start, if you’re big on turn-based strategy titles – thinking man’s empire builders such as Civ 4 – then the PC can’t be beat. There’s no contest, and I for one just won’t hear another word about it.

“Ah, but for driving games and fighting action, the PlayStation’s controllers are by far the best,” you Sony die-hards might cry. Well, I retort, you can buy PC gamepads too. These are just as good as the PS versions, designed in pretty much exactly the same way, only you don’t need a darn PlayStation to use them with. Cost-savings, who doesn’t like those?

Sticking with cash savings, you can enjoy PC gaming for free! I mean, you can’t download classic and highly addictive freeware games for Xbox can you? There’s more: you can upgrade your PC with a new graphics card and more memory so that it can handle the very latest game titles, for years! With consoles on the other hand, you’ve got to buy the whole thing over again each time a new generation offering comes around.

The biggie though, the chasm-like difference between console and PC gaming that many buyers forget (if only for a short while), stems from gaming’s social (or, should I say, anti-social) nature.

You see, from a domestic standpoint, PC-based gaming can help you keep a happy home; it can save your marriage, help you retain your friends, avoid scaring the dog, and much, much more.

Consider this – to play a console you need a TV to plug it into. (FYI - I know, before you even think it, that the PSP has arrived, but you try gaming on this for a few hours without your eyes going funny.) This TV requirement means that unless your whole family are as geeky as you, your Prince of Persia posturing will pretty soon nark a fellow housemate or a family member who’s chomping at the bit to get their latest fix of Desperate Housewives. When gaming on your computer however, you can idle away the hours with much less resistance.

Many home PCs are kept in the bedroom or a dedicated study area, so you can lock yourself away there, alone in your struggles and out of the way of pesky non-believers. Even better, play on your notebook and you can indulge your whims wherever you like, whenever you like.

Generally speaking, you just can’t do this with consoles, as annoyingly, they need to connect to a TV. Even if you wanted to, connecting them to a PC monitor won’t work because their connectors are RCA, S-Video or component connections, whereas in contrast most monitors only include D-Sub and maybe the higher quality DVI.

It’s for these reasons that the PC will keep on trucking game-wise and, to be honest, it’s these very same reasons that the wives, husbands and families of Windows Middle East’s editorial team are still around. So consider all this, the next time you’re thinking of buying yourself or your delightful sprog a black box of gaming power. You probably already have all you need…

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