My first experiences with PC gaming were with text based games. If the text based Star Trek was not the first then it was Zork or Bedlam on the Tandy CoCo. Back in those days (1980-ish), many times games would be published for free in gaming magazines. Literally – the source code (usually in some form of BASIC) would consume page after page and all of it would have to be hand-typed into the computer. Since I was already a computer geek, it worked out great. I got to play games and mess with programming all at the same time – even at school.
My next chapter of PC gaming was closer to what we think of today as Video Games. Ken and Roberta Roberts had this little company called Sierra On-Line and I gladly spend hundreds of hours playing nearly every Sierra title that came out. The Space Quest series was my favorite but Kings Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry were all among the very best games at the time. Since audio was very simplistic on computers at the time, MIDI support was the big advance in game music. I had a Roland MT-32 connected via a MIDI controller to my PC and the music sounded amazing.
Then digitized speech came along. This was ground breaking and opened the door for adventure games to be more interactive outside of the realm of reading and typing and then id Software released DOOM – and that was an entirely new take on PC games – a first person point of view.
All along this evolutionary path I had to upgrade my PC in small steps. Add a little memory here, an audio card there. It was affordable and infrequent. The straw that broke my camel’s back was DOOM 3 released in 2004. That was the game that made me take a look at console gaming. I had reached a point where my PC was maxed out and to jump to the next generation of games I would need to replace my entire PC. I still play some casual games on PC, but no high end games.
Recently, I started getting the itch to return to PC gaming so I priced out the parts to build my ultimate gaming PC. Here are a few specs: Intel Core i7 Processor overclocked to at least 4 Ghz, 3 Nvidia video cards (2 for graphics + 1 for PhysX), 12 GB high speed RAM, large hard disk array(RAID 5), MSI Big Bang motherboard, Nvidia 3d Vision, Silverstone Raven RV02 case, liquid CPU cooler, THX certified audio, 3D monitor, etc. This PC wouold last me a very long time and be able to handle 3D gaming with ease. It’s simple enough to research benchmarks and spec out an ultimate PC – but the $3,000 to buy it is pretty hard to swallow. Would it really be that much better of a gaming experience to justify the cost? That’s the same as buying a new Xbox 360 every year for the next 10 years. The DirectX 11 graphics look amazing and the PhysX processing is so realistic – but how long will it be until we can get all the same features in a $400 gaming console?
Perhaps I will find the answer someplace in the middle. Having a mid-range gaming PC only for the PC games I want to play – without 3D – or THX – but it’s all so sexy and seductive. The lure of playing Metro 2033 in hi-res 3D with DX11 haunts me – but I’ll probably get over it. With $3,000 being the price of admission (granted I am pricing out an overkill PC), I can be happy with my console games for quite some time still, but not forever. Maybe it’s time to revisit Zork. At least I know it will run on my antiquated PC.
Have a look at what PC gaming used to be. Try Zork here for free.