You and Your Console(s)
This is a big week in the gaming world. Yesterday, we learned much more about the upcoming Xbox One and the fantastic games that it will play. But that is not what this post is about. If you want to learn all about what is coming this November, there are multitudes of sites and blogs with recaps of the entire presentation. VG247, Joystiq and The VideoGame Blog, for example all have extensive coverage. All of this talk of the new versions of the Xbox and PlayStation remind us of the importance of these platforms and the hardware that run the games that we play.
The photo above is not the happy occasion of unwrapping a new console, but the much sadder reality of sending a damaged unit to be repaired. I am not Xbox bashing or even complaining really. We have two Xbox consoles in our house and they get regular play every single day. Many days, they run hour after hour as my three sons play together or one after another and then run late into the night when I take over. This hardware takes a pounding and for the most part runs without much ado.
Having said that, I cannot recall the number of times that we have a Xbox repaired, it is either four or five times now. In the days of the original white Xbox 360, the red ring of death was the culprit several times and there is no question what you must do. There is also no warning typically, so the transition is abrupt. With the newer black Xbox 360 S model, our issues have been less absolute. The laser seems to go out of alignment and only reads parts of the discs correctly. The result is that the console can play installed games, be they Xbox Live arcade games or disc-based games installed on the hard drive where the disc is just read for confirmation and then stopped. Unfortunately, no new games can be read and so the unit was sent for repair.
This is always an emotional time that reminds us of our deep connection with gaming. It also means that four of us need to share a single machine for three weeks. I am happy to report that the unit has been repaired and should be back this week and that no one was hurt in the process (although tempers may have gotten a bit heated a few times between the brothers). We are attached to our hardware not only because of the games that it enables us to play but because it defines us to the gaming world. Much like which car you drive gives the outside world a view (however inaccurate) into who you are or who you or who you wish to be, which gaming system you choose defines the gaming experience that you wish to be a part of.
At my house, we are strongly skewed towards Xbox, PCs and Ipads, but we have a GameCube as well. My sister has multiple Xboxes as well as PS3s as well as GameCube and Wii. There are few limits to the gaming experience at her house and her multi-system experience gives her a much broader view into the differences between the communities that play on each system. There is no doubt that the online communities are different as are the audiences that play the various popular games. But one thing all gamers have in common is the desire to have a comfortable and familiar environment in which to play. This environment is made up of the room, a favored chair, the console and peripherals, etc. Once you get your space outfitted it is always a bit unsettling to have part of it changed.
Come November, many game rooms will have a new console next to the existing one. There is no doubt that this will greatly expand the experience but for now I am just looking forward to having my 360 back.