By Jack Wannan
Olivia Mule didn’t want to just go out and buy a PC. Like many who want to get into PC gaming, she wanted to build her own custom setup. So with the advice from some friends, a video tutorial and all parts delivered to her house, it was a success. Almost.
After getting past some troubles downloading Microsoft, the PC sounded weird. With hardly anything running, it was huffing and puffing like it was being pushed to its limit.
It took Mule, a masters of digital media candidate at Ryerson, a quick Google search to find out she had the wrong fan for her computer.
“I found some obscure forum that’s like ‘You need a four-pin fan to control your fan speed,’” said Mule, who in retrospect considered the building experience a “victory.”
Gamers are a passionate group. It’s been known for ages that they love to debate about which gaming platform is superior. It used to be Microsoft’s Xbox versus Sony’s PlayStation—two gaming consoles with iterations so comparable they’re hard to tell apart.
Nintendo products would always tag along in the debate, their approach innovative and outside-of-the-box compared to its other two competitors.
PC gaming has existed that entire time. Its impact hasn’t been part of the console wars for long, but its popularity has definitely skyrocketed during the pandemic.
Ryerson’s “video game professor” Kristopher Alexander, who teaches video game production at the university, said he feels that there’s never been an easier and more enjoyable time to play on PC.
“I can watch this 13-minute video and learn how to build a PC,” said Alexander, sharing a video from YouTube channel “Zach’s Tech Turf.” He also shared the interactive website PCPartPicker, which allows people to build a computer that falls in line with their needs and budget.
Interest in PC gaming increased recently along with the rise of livestreaming. The new genre of entertainment has been described as one “in the midst of a genuine revolution.”
Live streaming platforms like Twitch have been growing massively. Streamlabs saw a combined 6.33 billion hours watched on its website in the second quarter of 2021, another all-time high after two previous quarters each set a new record.
“[Streaming] looked like a really cool way to connect with people who had the same interests,” said Mule, who started streaming in March 2020 and has become a partner of the website since.
In 2020, five of the top 10 most watched game categories on Twitch were exclusive PC titles, per statistics site SullyGnome. Others like Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V and Minecraft are offered on console but are most often streamed on PC.
Third-year business management student Erik Mazilu said he got into PC games Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and H1Z1 after watching Twitch streamers.
Watching prolific streamers Summit1g and Dr DisRespect playing these games gives Mazilu the itch to try them out himself.
For some students, having a gaming PC might be a blessing and a curse—especially during the pandemic, where most schoolwork is done at home.
Some students feel it is more convenient than anything to have a system that can handle gaming one second, and Desire2Learn assignments the next.
“I can just work on something and then decide to play, and like barely move,” said Mazilu.
Others might need that separation to be more productive. After all, when the freedom of thousands of games is just a few clicks away, why do that assignment now?
Third-year new media student Francis Humarang said that he has needed that separation in the past.
He uses a separate laptop for schoolwork to stay focused. “When using my desktop I found myself [getting] distracted too easily,” he said.
Many feel PC gaming is on the rise, but the reports of console gaming’s death may be greatly exaggerated.
Gaming in general has seen a sharp increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with consoles taking in a large share of that revenue. Nintendo’s Switch gaming device crushed previous sale records in its fifth year on the market, recording 2.8 million sales within a year (the company had moved 2.1 million copies in the previous year).
Sony has continued to struggle with their PlayStation 5 rollout, as demand has overwhelmed their lack of supply since launching the product in November 2020.
Many of the top video games remain console-exclusive or cater heavily towards console fanbases. This includes annually-released sports titles, the majority of Nintendo games and the popular first-person shooter franchise Call of Duty.
Whether PC gaming will trump console gaming in the next 10 years is hard to conclude. But if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that none of the platforms are going anywhere. This isn’t some sign to sell everything you own and jump ship to PC gaming.
For generations to come, the debate of which platform is the best will only continue—but it might just have another player to factor in.