The PickleBandit's Barrel

The PickleBandit's Barrel

Video Gaming on a Personal Level

Getting Into Gaming, Part One

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was interested in  Digital Gaming, but didn’t know where to begin. Many gave suggestions; I suggested that she pick my brain. This inspired me to answer that very question:

What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to get into gaming?


I’ve read several blogs and articles on how to get a girlfriend into gaming, but I want to take an approach that encompasses both sexes (at least until part two). I picked the brain of my spouse and she gave me the most wonderfully practical suggestions. This is why I have to break up this post into two parts.

Five things to consider.

Want to get into Video Games? You have to make some very practical considerations.

 1.) Money

This is probably the biggest sticking point in making your decisions. Let’s face it, getting into this pastime takes an investment. Your income stream might factor into what you might buy. It might be wise to borrow a friend or relative’s console (e.g. PS3, XBOX360, Wii) and see if it fits your needs. If you are buying, then here are some things to consider about hardware:

Consoles (i.e. stand-alone machines dedicated to gaming)

  • The latest consoles are aging and reaching the end of their cycle. The good news is that price drops in hardware and games soon follow.
  • From most expensive to least: PS3, XBOX360, Wii
  • The PS3 and XBOX360 have hard drives (like a PC) and the bigger the hard drive, the more games and apps can be stored. However, they are more expensive.
  • You can get a hard drive for the Wii, but it’s sold separately and is external.
  • The PS3 also doubles as a Blue-Ray player if that’s your thing.
  • You can rent games that can be completed in a short time, or to try them out first.  You can hit your local Redbox kiosk or go online with a service like Gamefly.
  • Consoles are great if you plan to do your gaming at home or you don’t want to hassle with the internal hardware.

PC/Personal Computer* (Usually with Windows)

  • Money makes a difference here. If you want to play the latest graphic-and-sound-intensive games you will need to buy a PC with hardware specifications that can handle it. An out-of-the-box example is Dell’s Alienware line of desktop and laptop computers. If you plan on playing Cityville, a standard desktop will do (plus, they’re cheaper)
  • Upgrading: Usually the PC’s made for gaming are more open to upgrading better parts and customization. That will increase the lifespan of the PC and allow for the latest games to play.
  • However, unless you are willing to pay someone else to do it, you will have to open up your computer to swap out the old components for newer ones. This varies in difficulty depending on the part.
  • Learning curve: PC’s take some time to get the hang of beyond the usual functions for work and productivity. You will need to learn what a GPU does, how a more powerful PSU can affect you PC. Software patches to fix buggy games are the norm. It may be overwhelming to the novice gamer.
  • Maintenance. You will have to keep your virus/malware protection updated, and open up your PC for the occasional air-dusting (among other things)
  • You are going to have to pay to be online to take advantage of most games, plus most game publishers require you to register your game online as an anti-piracy measure.
  • THE REWARDS? A lot more freedom. A lot of different choices of games for differing tastes. Many FREE games are available online and for download.

2.) Time

Do you have a lot of free time? That’s a pretty fair question and that may determine where you choose to go with your gaming. If you don’t see yourself sitting on your bum for hours you may want to go a more casual approach, then there’s plenty of room for you. Perhaps you commute using subways, light rails, and buses; buying a portable system (Nintendo 3DS, PSP Vita) may be way to get some gaming on the go. Maybe the apps on your high-tech smartphone may be the only gaming fix that you need.

3.) Going Social?

Ever since people gathered around Space Invaders machines in the 1970s, gaming has had a social element. Even when we sequestered ourselves the dark for most of the late ’80s and ’90s we often traded software, strategies and small talk (along with some disturbing fan art) with our friends. From the mid-1990s, gamers connected to each other using networks and then the internet. In the first decade of the 21st Century, consoles started catching up. Now it’s possible to play and chat with someone on the other side of the country. Some consoles facilitate this better than others. PCs are still great at it and have games that depend on it. If you planning on being a hermit, there are also options for you.

4.) Age

Even more important than gender, age is an important factor in deciding to get into gaming. It makes sense doesn’t it? You wouldn’t plop a six-month old in front of an XBOX360 loaded up with a copy of CoD: Modern Warfare 3, right?….right? There are some consoles that may be easier to use with your kids if you are going go in with your family. On the other hand, you may be a 39-year old  who has no patience for motion control and is used to operating a PC at work. So perhaps an entry-level gaming rig may be more appropriate: it can also double as a way to expand work productivity from home.

5.) How active are you?

Not all gamers are couch warriors. Perhaps you want to combine your gaming with your exercise routine? XBOX360 has a full-motion peripheral called Kinect that allows you to play dancing or dancing-fitness games (i.e. Zumba). There are also non-dancing games that also use Kinect, that may get you on your feet and moving a little.Of course, the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls lead the way for motion gaming and offers many titles for it. For those who want to be on the forefront of aerobic and interactive gaming, you can try ZOMBIES! RUN! The best thing is, all you need is your smartphone.

Part One Wrap Up

Before you even think about genre or gender, you need to look at a more practical picture. Getting into  gaming is a lot more complicated than when there were fewer choices. However, if you keep in mind these five criteria, you will have a smoother time getting into the most fascinating (not to mention, fun!) pursuits of this century.  Next time I’ll get into more of the specifics.

*I’m aware you can do some gaming on an Apple desktop/laptop, but most publishers don’t develop for these machines (you may miss out!) and the ones that do charge a lot more for them.**

**BTW: I’m not anti-Mac, I’ve done some wonderful sound and movie editing on them. I just don’t recommend them for gaming.


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