Is PC gaming the holy grail?

Grimlakin

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I was considering the costs of PC gaming today and over the last 40 some odd years that I have been involved in the hobby. And the thought occurred to me, is the practice of PC gaming becoming something only for the wealthy or IT professional?

First lets consider what constituted a good gaming experience back when I first got into PC gaming.

My first PC I ever owned was a 486 sx 20 from Packard bell. It came with a whopping 2 megabytes of ram on the motherboard. Yes you read that correctly. The video solution was as well on the motherboard and had 256k of memory. (That was expandable via eprom like sockets. Same for CPU cache.)

Over the initial years of owning this piece of hardware I delved deep into DOS manuals, and Windows 3.1 manuals and really everything else. There was no YouTube, and BBS’s were a thing that I thankfully was introduced to through a friend who’s dad worked for Tandy (a notable PC maker at the time.). Again IT focus. That Packard bell chassis saw me through to a 486 DX2 66 with 6 yes SIX megabytes of RAM, and a 1 megabyte video card (that died.). This was a time where having active coolers on CPU’s was considered odd. But over the years I scrapped and begged for gifts to get this thing as top end as I could. I could play DOOM without special boots. It was nice. It was also perhaps the only current generation PC in my apartment complex let alone neighborhood. Owning a ‘top’ end PC back then was odd. Just as it is today. That PC with monitor and default keyboard and mouse was about a thousand dollars. And it was a stretch for my family to put that in front of me. Sacrifices were made.

For me, and many like me this led me down the path of working in IT. Having gone through the learning and self teaching on my own system helped me developed the skills and understanding and DESIRE to learn and grow more. I’ve had MANY systems over the years, and been through iterative builds with all of them.

Currently my system contains these pieces.

CPU: R9 5900x
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4 3200 ram with 2x16 sticks for 32 gb.
Motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Pro [WI-FI]
Storage: Samsung 980 pro 2tb PCIE 4.x x 4 NVME drive
VIDEO: Sapphire Radeon RX 6800 XT
Cooler: Corsair H150i Elite Capellix
Case: Thermaltake View 51 TG ARGB
Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX
Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB
OS: Windows 11 Pro

Costs…

CPU: 400
Ram: 235 ç Purchased 2019
Motherboard: 235
Storage: 260
Video: 900 ßManaged to squeeze into a good deal before prices went bonkers.
Cooler: 225
Case: 225
Keyboard: 90
Mouse: 55
OS: 40
Monitor 1 Acer Nitro: 365
AOC 32 inch: 100 ß Craigslist

Total rounded estimated cost: 3130.00

This cost is spread out over 3 years of hardware purchases. As I build my own and keep on top of it.

Even if I purchased a new Console every year I still wouldn’t be at this cost for hardware/OS.

I’m middle class, probably mid to lower upper based on income. Spending the money I have on this PC isn’t a bank breaker. I still try to size to performance that I need. I don’t game at 4k and such so that influences my decisions. I also work in IT so doing this fuels my mind and passion as it is something I’ve been deeply into since I was a teen.

If you are coming into the world of gaming on PC. Who are going to be your influencers? Who will help shape how you see PC gaming and what you want to do with it? I firmly believe having to operate on a budget encouraged me to learn how to get as much as I could out of my systems over the years to where it has become something I do on autopilot. Are new gamers getting into PC gaming because of watching influencers online? Is it a family member that drives them to want that experience? Are they willing to put in the time and effort to learn to do this correctly or even ‘incorrectly’ if that is a thing?

And more importantly do we as the ‘in’ crowd of PC enthusiasts owe it to the next generation to help them along? Should we be reaching out and looking to expand and encourage these young minds to embrace a passion many of us share?

The issue here is… simply put. Cost. I want to build out some VR Capable gaming PC’s for local schools. (JR high level.) To expose the kids there to IT as a STEM category. To inspire creation and creativity and troubleshooting as a passion. For me that has led to a career I can provide for my family with. I’m sure for others reading this it is the same.

I’ve personally reached out the Dell via my corporate contacts to see if they would be willing to help do something like this. And the answer is no. Their marketing doesn’t see it as a viable use of their spend.

The next generation of IT professionals will be software jockeys that don’t know hardware. I’ve seen the writing on the walls. When the guy that has to come onsite to replace a server part is barely paid 20 bucks an hour for their effort. But a programmer is clearing 50 an hour for barely being able to put together a commented code segment. The world will have to realize where value is. Because unless you feel like you can’t advance, or don’t have the ability to grow or be recognized you’re screwed. That is swiftly becoming the equivalent of fast food service. Do you want someone with the passion of a teenager at McDonalds to be the person fixing your enterprise hardware?

I know I’ve gone all over the place here. Let me try and summarize where I wanted to go with this.
I suppose consider this the TLDR;

  • The barrier to entry to be a computer enthusiast/hobbiest has become very high.
  • Support for the hobbiests needs to be encouraged.
  • We need to do more with less.
  • How do YOU think we can encourage more to enter this very expensive hobby? (career path?)
 

Brian_B

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My story isn't dissimilar from Grimalkins

I get to watch my stepson start to grow into it. We got him computer parts last Christmas so he could build his own (well, almost entirely, he had to use a hand-me-down GPU since they just were not around). He has a couple of my older rigs that he tinkers with. I recently gave him an box of old water cooling parts to let him play with.

Now, I wish I could say I was teaching him this stuff - but he's a teenager, and I'm Dad... so no, no listening to Dad on anything (until money is needed, anyway)

But I do get to see what he's watching / looking at in order to learn. Honestly: PC Building Simulator probably has taught him more about various components, and he watches a lot of Linus Tech Tips, and then there's the kids he hangs out with in Discord playing Rust, Fortnight, Farming Simulator, and Trucking Simulator.

That said, if we hadn't bought him his first build pretty much ready to go, and/or just happened to have had a couple of older running builds laying around, I don't know how he would get into it.

That said, I think he just likes to play with them because (a) he can play video games on them, and (b) he can take them apart and rebuild them, and he can't do that with his Playstation. He might go into IT, but he really likes engines more, so he's probably set to be an automotive tech or something along those lines. He tried taking Intro to Programming this year but he doesn't really like it much.
 

Grimlakin

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Programming doesn't equal IT work until you progress to the point of tsql queries and power shell scripting. Then you start naturally building that knowledge.

I'm glad you could let your son get into it. Mine never did but I came in late. He WANTS to game but only wanted to have Systems that just worked. So he's relegated to console gaming.
 

Niner51

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I remember getting into PC gaming in the late 90's due to some friends I worked with having LAN parties. I was strictly a console gamer up to that point. I bought my first Gateway Pentium 3 1Ghz /Geforce 2 MX200 PC and things took off from there. Still remember getting my first upgrade (A Geforce 3 ti200 and installing that myself and that got me the upgrade/build myself bug). I don't have kids of my own so nobody to pass my passion down to in my immediate family, but have helped friends and their kids with their builds. I have friends and coworkers that are close to half my age and have gotten them into PC gaming and now they see what they have been missing. Now that I am approaching 50 I find myself gaming less, but still enjoy the upgrading and building systems. I do however see a slow down for myself on the horizon as I just don't game as much, but I'm glad I have shown some people the "light" and to see how becoming a PC enthusiast can be fun and rewarding.
 

MadMummy76

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I don't think the barrier to entry become high in terms of finances. You can get a decent mid range PC that will play most games well enough.
I got into PC gaming after the fall of the iron curtain, a new 386 PC cost the equivalent of 3 years salary for the average person. There is no higher barrier to entry than that.

The way I still got into PC gaming was through getting an obsolete 286 that was being auctioned off among employees at the company my parents worked at. It didn't run most modern games. I mean it wasn't capable to even start them, not like now where basically anything will run on any PC.
But it was still this shiny new and amazing thing with boundless possibilities. Compare that to now when babies are born with smartphone in hand, how could a big clunky PC grab their attention?

So the barrier to entry into PC gaming and through that working IT is not money in my opinion. It's a lack of incentive. If I wanted to play videogames that PC was my only option. Nowadays it has to compete with a bunch of idiot proof "smart" devices. Why would kids be interested in a device that does the same as their phone only it's huge and not portable? It's the same story as with driving, many kids nowadays aren't interested in that either. If we had a car in senior year of high school we would've been kings, better than kings, gods. Kids nowadays will only get their license at 25, out of necessity. But I digress.

PC gaming is more accessible now than ever, the problem is that they don't even want it. They'd rather get a trendy "macbook" even when they need a PC than an actual X86 laptop that could introduce them to actual IT stuff. Because apple does well to shield normies from that. Microsoft is trying to do the same since Windows 8, but they don't really know what they are doing. But that's another can of worms I don't want to open now.

I'm still torn whether I actually want kids or not, but if that happens I'll definitely try to pass on my enthusiasm, unless scalpers and miners kill it first.
 

Brian_B

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PC gaming is more accessible now than ever, the problem is that they don't even want it. They'd rather get a trendy "macbook" even when they need a PC than an actual X86 laptop that could introduce them to actual IT stuff. Because apple does well to shield normies from that. Microsoft is trying to do the same since Windows 8, but they don't really know what they are doing. But that's another can of worms I don't want to open now.
To be honest, I wonder if this is more a sign of the market changing around us old folks than people not accepting the PCMR.

I enjoy PC gaming, but I also enjoy MMOs, and I just have to accept that the golden age of MMOs has come and gone. Maybe the golden age of PC gaming has as well. The only real place that PC gaming still seems to be alive and well are in e-sports (which even those are dying off) and the for-profit streaming crowd (which I can't for the life of me even imagine why that is a thing, but hey, I guess if Crypto can exist so can this).
 

Grimlakin

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I disagree that the golden age of MMO's is gone. It just isn't anywhere near cutting edge. FFXIV is alive and doing well from an MMO standpoint. It just isn't very cutting edge. And it's filled with WIBO (sp?) guys who have an unhealthy appreciation for teenaged cat girls. Sorry if anyone here feels called out on that. ;)

So I think MMO's are doing well we just as a community have been so regularly shat on by WOW that it feels like the market is gone.

BTW Tethering to my phone right now to download Lost Ark to my personal laptop because I didn't think to do that before I left home. 11MB a second is far better than the 1.2MB the hotel gives you for 'free'.

Anyway where was I. Oh yea... I think that the next generation of IT people that come about will be in it more or less for the money and not the passion. And that makes me worry about the future state we have coming in the world of IT where everything becomes outsourced.
 

Brian_B

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Oh yea... I think that the next generation of IT people that come about will be in it more or less for the money and not the passion.
The only thing that doesn't get boiled down to this is Art - and even art has that aspect to it.
 

Grimlakin

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The only thing that doesn't get boiled down to this is Art - and even art has that aspect to it.
I have the capacity to do a lot of different things to make money. I honestly enjoy doing the IT work I get to do. It meshes with my personality and logical mind set perfectly. So it is what I do.

I could do other things. Be a mechanic, do woodwork, write fantasy literature poorly. Many things but i enjoy doing this.
 

MadMummy76

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To be honest, I wonder if this is more a sign of the market changing around us old folks than people not accepting the PCMR.

I enjoy PC gaming, but I also enjoy MMOs, and I just have to accept that the golden age of MMOs has come and gone. Maybe the golden age of PC gaming has as well. The only real place that PC gaming still seems to be alive and well are in e-sports (which even those are dying off) and the for-profit streaming crowd (which I can't for the life of me even imagine why that is a thing, but hey, I guess if Crypto can exist so can this).
I never got into MMOs, I've tried a few, actually more than a few, but they looked very dated compared to single player games.
Plus they seemed more like a second job, rather than something one could enjoy once or twice a week for a few hours.

Anyway where was I. Oh yea... I think that the next generation of IT people that come about will be in it more or less for the money and not the passion. And that makes me worry about the future state we have coming in the world of IT where everything becomes outsourced.
I don't think anyone does IT for passion. Maybe you got into it out of passion, but stayed for the money.
 

Grimlakin

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I never got into MMOs, I've tried a few, actually more than a few, but they looked very dated compared to single player games.
Plus they seemed more like a second job, rather than something one could enjoy once or twice a week for a few hours.


I don't think anyone does IT for passion. Maybe you got into it out of passion, but stayed for the money.
For my role I need the passion.
 
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