For the casual computer user, a gaming console could actually replace the family PC. American game programmer John Carmack said that, “The Xbox 360 is the first console that I’ve ever worked with that actually has development tools that are better for games than what we’ve had on PC.”
One Gaming Console, Many Uses
The statement that gaming consoles could replace computers might seem hilarious on the surface, but consoles today offer a lot more than the Atari and Nintendo of generations past. Remember those consoles from the 1980s? Games like Frogger and Pac Man seemed state of the art at the time, and the consoles on which they were played were the answer to all things gaming.
Now that gaming consoles are starting to offer features such as linking up to Facebook or other social networks and watching streaming movies through apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, buying a gaming console that is strictly for gaming is quickly becoming a thing of the past. WiFi capabilities allow internet browsing for things like checking email or visiting favorite websites. And the Wii Speak microphone allows video chatting that rivals computer programs like Skype.
Technological Turf Wars
Whether you’re a console gamer, a tablet enthusiast, or a computer guru, each type of gaming device offers benefits that the others lack. Tablets are mobile and can go anywhere you go. Computers offer software programs like word processing, databases, and spreadsheets that you can print and use to create reports for educational or business use. And while consoles allow you to play one game with multiple people who are either in the same room or across the world, their other features put them heads and shoulders above other devices. Here are some of the perks of a gaming console that suggest they could someday replace home computers.
- Power – The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are both more powerful than the iPad 2, which is important for playing graphics-intensive games. Nobody wants to lag out when trying to defeat a hoard of enemy zombies.
- Resolution – The pixels on both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 have a resolution of up to 1080p. That’s on par on what’s necessary for gaming on a high definition television.
- Ergonomics – While the iPad is slightly higher and you can mirror its screen on your HDTV, trying to use the tablet as a controller is awkward. Controllers for consoles are ergonomically contoured to fit the human hand.
- Used Games – Unlike computers and tablets, if you decide you’re finished with a hard copy of a console game, you can trade it in at retail locations like GameStop for credit towards new games. You can also sell them at online auction sites such as eBay.
- Interactive Play – Consoles like the Wii and the Xbox’s Kinect force players to get up off the couch and use their own energy to power their favorite games. In a society that strives to fight health issues like childhood obesity, consoles offer a way to help that tablets and computers can’t.
Computers Are Running Out of Steam
The popular gaming platform for computers, Steam, recently opened up beta testing for a new service that fits big screen televisions. It looks great and is meant to encourage people to connect their computers or laptops to their televisions. Then they could play those games using either a controller or a wireless keyboard or mouse.
However, until they develop a Steam console that works independently from the computer it’s unlikely that it will replace your Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii. Despite Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick speaking out about his preference for computers taking over gaming consoles, as with Steam until developers come up with a gaming-friendly computer that works with ergonomic controllers and plugs right into the television, it looks like the console isn’t in danger of being taken over anytime soon.
Non-PC Alternatives to Consoles
Sometimes you need an alternative to consoles, whether it’s a tablet or smartphone for mobile gaming or a throwback to the gaming trends of the 1980s. For example, a PacMan arcade machine makes another great alternative to standard consoles. While it only plays one game, for younger kids it promotes qualities like sportsmanship, patience, and sharing. Regardless of how you game, be responsible and remember that there’s more to life than sitting in front of a video screen. Even if you’re using a Wii or Kinect to let physical exercise power your electronic fun, your eyes need a break, too.
Although he’s in his mid-30s, freelance writer Mark Harris is like a big kid when it comes to video games. He loves to get outdoors whenever possible whether it’s taking his wife to one of the many picturesque beaches around their White Rock, BC home or heading out for a day of kayaking and hiking with his friends. When he gets a break during outdoor activities he can game on his smartphone but while at home he retreats to the family room. Formerly a blank canvas he and his wife used tips from www.menshideaway.com to convert the space into a room worthy of hosting parties while watching hockey or late-night poker games.