How to get back to gaming! Part 1: Getting the right gear
As many of you know, I’ve been gaming most of my life. From childhood to adulthood, gaming was the most constant thing that I have to this day, which surprisingly, plays a role in between the added responsibilities I have as an entrepreneur, a father and a husband: mainly to manage my stress and mental well being. With all the things going around in my life, I find gaming as a helpful medium to help me deal with the stress and pressure that I have to deal with. Of course when I “consume” my games, all are done in moderation (although sometimes my wife lets me binge from time to time). I’m also saddened to hear sometimes that friends of the same age bracket (late 20’s to mid 30’s) who I knew were big gamers during our school years, have stopped gaming. The usual excuse would be that they have no time (fine, but I strongly feel if there’s a will, there’s a way), they don’t know what to play, and their computer or console is outdated. I’m hoping that this series, will help former gamers guide them back to the once beloved hobby that they had. I’m also hoping that those who had mused about getting into gaming will be encouraged to get into the hobby. What’s beautiful with playing video games is that it is never too early or too late to start playing and having fun!
I’d like to start with one of the biggest barriers for entry when it comes to gaming: buying the hardware. Don’t worry, I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible while highlighting some key points for easy consumption.
You may already own a computer for gaming!
Nowadays, buying a computer is a very straightforward process. It really depends on how much you're willing to spend. But if you have a computer or laptop that you bought in the past year or so, most likely you’ll be able to play most of the games today. The three major components when playing on a personal computer is the video card, RAM and the Operating System (OS).
Check the specs of your machine and make sure the video card has a Nvidia or AMD (formerly known as ATI) brand beside it. If it does then you have won half the battle already! Built in video cards that are usually branded as Intel HD or something to that extent usually lack the power for playing newer games, but older games (games made early 2000’s or later) should have little to no problem running.
For RAM (or memory) 4GB should be plenty enough. Of course, the more the merrier and RAM nowadays is the cheapest upgrade you can do, so if you find some games struggling to run, a RAM upgrade is usually the first best step that you can do.
If you run a machine with Windows 7 or 8, then you will have no problems playing any game out in the market today. Apple and Linux fans will have a bit of a struggle on getting things to run, but good news is, Steam (an online game retailer) has a good number of games that you can play.
The Steam library for Mac and Linux is still pretty limited, but it’s been increasing as more game developers are usually making games with Macs and Linux machines in mind. There are workarounds such as installing Bootcamp (for Macs) and Wine (for Linux) but they have variety degrees of success. Having a Windows machine is usually best for gaming, so try to consider that when purchasing a new desktop or laptop.
So many choices! Where to start?
There are a couple of options that you can take when buying a new desktop. First is having your machine custom made by picking out the parts and components yourself. If you have the time (and energy!) to do your research, this is the most ideal way to control your budget and have a say on what brand and components you want in your glorious gaming machine.
But if you have a trusted retailer for your computer needs, they usually have pre-built machines that you can choose with various prices. Usually the major shift in prices is dependent on what video card is inside the machine, since video cards are usually the most expensive component of any computer. The more expensive the video card, the higher performing it will be, which translates to running newer games better.
Pro tip: If you live in the Philippines, I highly recommend buying from a store called ACEnet (located 3rd floor, V-Mall, Greenhills). That’s where I personally buy all my computer stuff. The owner of the store, Tems, is a great guy to talk to. Please look for him when buying a brand new PC and have a budget in mind when asking him to quote you on a machine as he will work with your budget when building your dream machine.
Laptops on the other hand are simpler to purchase, although unlike desktops, you can’t really customize the parts of the machine, but similar to its desktop brothers, price point varies mainly on the video card. There are also so-called gaming laptops which are mainly for, you guessed it, playing games. They are usually twice the price of a regular laptop because usually the hardware in them are the high end spectrum. If you have the cash to burn, then go for it! This is the best way to experience gaming on a laptop since you’ll have no problem running the newer games.
Pro tip: There is a Singaporean online gaming laptop retailer called Aftershock, who can customize a gaming laptop for you without breaking the bank. They do deliver outside Singapore, but please do check with them on how much shipping and other fees will cost.
Apple fans, are of course, limited to whatever hardware that Apple sells, but usually there are variants with or without a proper video card. Make sure you’re getting a machine with a dedicated video card when buying a Mac (desktop or laptop variant).
How about gaming consoles?
Consoles like the Playstations, Xboxes and Wiis are actually the easiest and most economical gaming machines to buy. You don’t really need to worry on the specs and software of gaming consoles, since they’re designed with plug and play in mind. It will all depend really on what kind of games you want to play when it comes to these consoles and I shall break it down for you.
Nintendo Wii U
Generally, Nintendo games are aimed for the younger audiences (or the young at heart). Classic gaming icons like Mario, Link (Legend of Zelda), Metroid and your other favorites are found with this console. If you have children or want to keep your gaming less violent, this is the ideal machine for you. Plus the Wii U has the added feature of the controller becoming your gaming screen. So if your kids or spouse wants to watch tv and you still want to game, simply transfer the game screen to your controller! Problem solved!
Playstation 4 & Xbox One
I lump these two together since the game library are practically the same except for a few titles which are exclusive to one console. Besides that, specs and feature-wise they’re practically identical. The deciding factor mainly here would be: which “exclusive” games do you want to play? Simply Google: “Playstation / Xbox One Exclusives” to get a good list of games that are listed for each console. Big titles like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and the Battlefield series are usually available for all major platforms (PC, PS4 and Xbox One), so you really won’t miss out if those are the type of games you want to play.
So that’s it for the first part! I’ll be tackling where to buy games and how to master the art of buying games for cheap! I hope you like the first part of the series and if you have any questions please let me know through the comments below! Please feel free to message me also on Facebook (if we’re friends of course!), if you need more stuff to be clarified. I’d be happy to explain and go over any questions you will have.