It’s not what you think.
To tell the story, let me begin at the beginning: Christmas Day, 1984. I am 11 years old and my first and only brother has just been born. It is the last Christmas of my childhood in many ways, first of all because for this brief part of my life we are wealthy and second of all because I don’t have to share the holiday yet. The acreage under the Christmas Tree is a testament to consumerism, fat — nay, corpulent — with presents of ridiculous proportions and expense. Between the army of Transformers and Star Wars toys that amass to wage imaginary battle, I have hit pay dirt.
But, the final present is the coup de grace, a large box that has been denied me until the very end. I open it with the copper taste on greedy anticipation thick in my mouth, and I am not disappointed. It is an Apple IIC, my first desktop computer. It is a gift that goes on to define me for the next 25 years as a desktop PC gamer.
Now, a quarter of a century later, all that is about to change.
It’s not what you think.
For the past several months I have been hoarding away incrementally large sums of money for a planned upgrade. It’s been a while – like three years a while – and the time has come to give some love to my long PC gaming addiction.
But recently I was struck with an odd realization. I realized that most nights I got the kids off to bed, almost never with liquor or narcotics. My wife then settled down in front of the television to let the day wash away, while I retired to the dim confines of what passes for our office. It’s barely a room these days, more like a closet where detritus collects and holds secret meetings for equal rights under the baleful glare of unloved books and clothes that don't fit any more. And there I would drop headphones over my ears and immerse myself in nazi shooting or murloc killing until bed and sleep demanded their diurnal sacrifice.
Too often, my wife and I were passing ships in the night. A brief and mournful bleat of a horn on the distant horizon and then sequestered into our equal but separate realities. I have over the past few months grown tired of these dim surroundings. I used to think of it as a sanctuary, but now it feels more like a barrier.
So, I have decided to abandon my desktop and transfer wholly to a portable laptop.
This, I am told, is a decision that scholars of the future will not describe as wise. I am assured by people who like to assure me of things when I am wrong that I will find the tool an unwieldy beast that is not nearly as practical as one might hope, particularly if one is a gamer. I am told that it is an expensive option that marginalizes everything a really good desktop can do. I am told that I will be paying twice as much for half the benefit.
It’s not like I’m buying an Apple, people. As I begin pricing even the upper-mid range laptops, I am shocked to discover that they seem not nearly as expensive as I would have imagined. Hell, I can get a decent enough Alienware rig for $1500, which is obviously more expensive by a third than an equivalent desktop from the same proprietor, but that brings me back to the whole issue of a triumphant return to the living.
I won’t lie, it feels blasphemous to even consider dumping the old standby. I have fond memories of desktop gaming that counterpoint at least a quarter of my life, but that room will still be there should I want to escape. Even if I spend half the time sitting in the same familiar chair, drooling mindlessly to the endorphin firing stimuli of World of WarCraft, laptop plugged happily into my monitor and churning away, having at least the option of breaking free is worth something.
I do not imagine myself a future denizen of the Starbucks glitterati, drinking frapamochas or cappuspressos or whatever the hell that stuff is while writing moody blog posts and ignoring important calls on my iPhone. I’ve just been sold on the idea that maybe being a PC gamer doesn’t mean being a indigent hermit.
Maybe it’s just time to come out of the closet and admit that I’m a laptop guy?