I’m a dedicated PC gamer; my favourite game of all time is Sam & Max Hit The Road, I’ve spent more hours with TIE Fighter than should be humanly possible, and nine times out of ten I’ll get a multiplatform title with a keyboard and mouse in mind over a controller. That isn’t to say I don’t love console gaming – my first game experience was with the NES, and I’ve been an avid console gamer ever since.
There was one sector of my game playing habits where my consoles constantly beat my PC however – social gaming. I don’t mean online multiplayer, I mean inviting my mates around, having a few drinks and playing some games together. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves kept us entertained for many months (followed by many hangovers) and Mario Kart has always been a hit. Sitting in the comfort of the living room as opposed to huddling around a small computer monitor with a tiny portion of keyboard each was reason enough that my friends simply weren’t into PC gaming.
That changed recently when I loaded up my very own Steambox solution. For those who are interested in my setup which cost a grand total of $799:
1x Mac Mini with Windows 8 installed
4x Xbox 360 controllers
Thanks to the wonderful Steam Big Picture interface, navigating my extensive Steam library is a joy, and the Mac Mini can surprisingly handle most of the indie titles I have thrown at it thus far.
The next time my friends came over, I was determined to show them something they had never played before. We settled in for a four-player session of A Virus Named TOM from Misfit Attic, a fantastic co-op puzzle title that normally ends in tears due to a competitive streak within the players.
It was a huge hit. What I expected to last an hour at most turned into three hours of laughter and insults. My guests were hooked, and they wanted more.
I followed that up with a four-player fling with Monaco, an upcoming stealth title from Pocketwatch Games. There were no cries for Mario Kart, there was no need for Call of Duty Zombies, my friends were well and truly hooked on these unique gaming experiences.
“Are these on Xbox Live?” one of my friends asked, which left them a little shattered to hear that both are currently slated for a PC release only (Monaco will come to XBLA at some point however). My first night with my Steambox was a huge success.
Since then my friends don’t want to play the same old games on the same old consoles. Each time they have come around since, they want to see more interesting indie titles, games that they would otherwise miss out on simply because Steam is opening the door for indie developers unlike anything else.
The skeptics stated they didn’t understand the point of Steam Big Picture mode, and I have to agree, I was one of them. Yet after just a few weeks, I see the potential. I see the genius in the latest move from one of the most innovative companies in gaming entertainment. PC isn’t confined to one room any longer, it is quickly becoming the social platform for gamers.