Mouse and keyboard to play an FPS? That's easier how? These were the words that dominated my childhood as I booted up successive PlayStations, having no interest in PC gaming beyond Red Alert.
Games on the computer were limited to the RTS genre. I had no desire to expand beyond this horizon, happy in my little bubble, and that rang true until the start of the pandemic. At this point, my PlayStation 4 was near to retirement and my friends were beginning to invest in PC gaming...something had to give and I made the leap of faith.
As you oftentimes discover in life, the choices you make will be driven by the friends that you keep. If all of your friends are using PlayStations then you are a lot more likely to choose one yourself, as you don't want to be a lone gamer.
As humans, we hate being left out. Even as an adult I saw my friends moving away from the 'big two' (Microsoft and Sony) and towards what I perceived to be the lesser-known platforms and I felt left behind. This is why I dusted off my Steam account and gave it another go in order to once again be part of the social circle.
As an adult, I recognise the consideration that I hate throwing myself into the deep end. I like to dip my toes in the water first.
We all seek change, yet by doing so there is an adjustment period, and with a decade between the last time that I picked up my Steam account, I was expecting disappointment. This was actually not the case, as I felt more like a child at Christmas.
The constant sales offer you an extension of what Google Stadia provides: AAA gaming at an even more affordable price. Beating the sheer amount of content offered by the experimental console that still resides in my heart, yet have to admit, needs more.
Steam offers more choice, more sales and more opportunities to connect with your friends, which is something that Stadia misses for me.
Steam has helped me to step out of the console comfort zone and into a much bigger world. It is a world that can be intimidating, especially with regard to keyboard and mouse combinations but with time and practice, it gets easier. I know it's something that will be further improved through the release of the Steam Deck.
This is the stepping stone between console and PC. The happy medium and the consideration for which I may need to unlearn what I have just learnt. The future Christmas gift to myself and a measured roll of the dice.
It could be that within five years the Steam Deck is superseded by a new player in the market, but I have faith. I believe in Valve more so than Google at this point in time. I believe that whilst I have no doubt the Steam Deck will be slimmed down as the years fly past, it will not disappear anytime soon.
For me, Valve is a huge player within the industry and has offered a great deal of value, and a means in which to connect you to infrastructures of old that compensate for the limits of Google Stadia. That foray from Google, a console for which I have much love and admiration but have to concede that whilst they do not have the selection of blockbuster games on offer that I am looking for, Steam does. It provides a window into the world of Sony and Microsoft outside of investing in costly next-generation consoles.
The Steam Deck feels familiar (I have been provided with the chance to try out a friend's) yet different. It's heavier than what feels like a few Switches and the battery will not impress many, yet it's an amazing stepping stone. It boasts an easy interface from which I can play an extended library of games, free of the limits of the television and Sony's marketplace.
A Final Thought
With my purchase of the Steam Deck I am in full acknowledgment that whilst I have enjoyed playing games on Steam, getting used to keyboard and mouse combinations in the process, buttons are more of my friend.
The instant familiarity offered by a simple tap fills my fingers with electricity, as familiar as making coffee in the morning. This is a console that feels like it was made to aid with the transition from console gaming.
Console gaming is limited. It is via a box that you plug into the television, which upon boot up and load provides you with the latest entertainment experience. There is no real variety in the visuals (a point that is changing rapidly with the advent of high definition formats) and gaming experience, whereas PC gaming feels as though it is geared towards those that desire choice.
Full PC gaming with a mouse and keyboard is something that I will never quite get used to and whilst I have made the jump, I cannot deny the familiarity that I get from picking a controller. It is a comfort blanket with the Steam Deck offering the perfect halfway house. A portable console able to play top-of-the-line PC games, empowering me in a manner that a keyboard and mouse have yet to be able to do.
Changing platforms is a leap of much more than faith. It is a shift in shared interest amongst friends, gaming stores, and in the consideration of PC gaming, controllers. This is why I am looking forward to receiving my Steam Deck. A happy halfway house that will offer me the experiences that I yearn for outside of the need to shift the means by which I play games.
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