Out of the Closet

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?

Comments

barbex wrote:

Either I 'm really concentrating on the game, then I don't follow the TV at all and answer every comment or question about the current program with a blank stare. Or I'm transfixed on the TV and my game sits in pause for hours. I haven't really found a solution for that problem.

Because there is no solution! The best you can expect is to get some more physical proximity and the chance to talk a little at 15 min intervals. If the click-click-clicking doesn't bother your partner too much that is...
What I've started doing is that I try to spend most of the evening with my girlfriend, and after 10PM it's play time and we go our separate ways. I get less gaming done (1-2hr per night), but it saves my relationship, so it might be worth it
That said if I had the place for a dedicated spot I'd buy a desktop. I find it hard to game on the couch, and even if you don't melt your nuts it's quite uncomfortable to use a laptop anyway.
But as far as upgrading goes, you know, whatever. I've adjusted my gaming habits and do most of the high-end stuff on console (saves me a lot of fiddling and tweaking), and my 2006 Dell XPS still copes well with pretty much everything else (no, not Crysis!).
In the end, there's no way to have it all: "cheap", super-high-end and portable don't go hand in hand, and neither do gaming and quality time with your partner

Hello all!

May I add two cents?

Why don't you buy/build a proper gaming desktop with 1000$, and leave it at the basement, and then spend 500$ on a smaller, lighter netbook/laptop.

You'll have the best of both worlds:
1) a rig powerful enough to play those mouse and graphic intensive games, like FPS's and RTS's, that are only properly played on your sanctuary because they're attention-sinks;

and 2) have a mobile platform good enough to browse the Internet, write some controversial article, view some videos and play some attention-lite games (like Peggle), or resource lite games (like those on the GOG catalog), while enjoying the comfort and company of your family.

Doing kind of like Rabbit does with his Uber-Rig and his iPhone, I assume, is the best way. The right tool for the right problem. Don't compromise if you don't have to.

I too grew up with the Apple IIc as my first computer and remember many fond memories playing everything from lemonade stand and mouse paint to Conan, Bruce Lee, and the Ultima series. Great games.

The Apple IIc was actually meant to be a portable/luggable system (it had a handle!), so you've come full circle now.

My Logitech MX518 works just fine on a blue throw pillow, and one of those lap laptop "stand" things keep the jewels from melting.
WoW, TF2, HL2, Portal, Fallout3, Mass Effect are all just fine with this setup.

http://www.streammygame.com/smg/index.php There's a service I found here called Stream My Game. Not sure if it works but it might be worth a try so you can maintain your new directive while satiating your gaming hobby.

oMonarca wrote:

May I add two cents?

No! Your suggestion is both interesting and reasonable, and will not be tolerated!

Coldstream wrote:
oMonarca wrote:

May I add two cents?

No! Your suggestion is both interesting and reasonable, and will not be tolerated!

:D

@__@

Both? It has never happened to me. They're all either interesting and wacky, or, boring and reasonable.

My sincere apologies, sirs and madams.

/tongue-in-cheek smiley face tilted 90º to the left.

My system before this one was a laptop...but after I added an ergo keyboard and a gaming mouse...I needed a desk for it.

Currently the Ducks have a two laptops and a desktop in the same room with the TV. We just put smallish desks behind the couch for me and Duckling and Duckilama uses the coffee table. That way if Duckling is on a computer I can see what he's doing, and Duck and I can talk and game and watch TV at the same time. Although, truth be told...there just never seems to be much time for gaming anymore. This whole getting up before the sun thing has really put a kabosh on my ability to stay up much later than Duckling.

My current system is a voodoo that is based on laptop components, mostly because it was the most powerful SILENT energy efficient system I could find. After having a laptop for 3 years, I just couldn't go back to the noise of my big Alienware rig. They're powerful, but damn they're loud.

The question is is there anything wrong with doing your own thing at night (not every night obviously but most nights). The way I look at my girlfriends (I'm not yet old enough to take the plunge) is they are efectivley very good friends. I would never want to spend every night with any of my other friends so why would I want to spend every night with my missus? That is one of the many reasons why I love my desktop. I don't have the option of siting in the lounge to play games I have to sit in my den. With most of my ex's I have had this philosophy aprt from my last when I was going through a Civ 4 phase which killed that relationship (just one more turn anybody?).

But then again I'm an oddball who looks at the world to logicaly. The way I see it you start dating a women and then from that moment she has to be the most important thing in your life. More important than your hobbies more important even then your mate who you have been good friends with for the last 6 years I just don't think that makes much sence at all which is why I take a stand when it comes to me upgrading and I have a nagging voice in my ear that says "Get a laptop we'll be able to spend more time together." My answer is allways "Good god you want me to spend more time with you."

I too bought the 17" Dell 9400/E1705 to get out of the cave and spend more time with the wife. It didn't work out for me, the laptop was too big, heavy, hot, mouse lacking, etc, for anything to be enjoyable. It ended up being a purchase I really regretted, and now, as happens with all tech, I'd be lucky to get $300 for the boat anchor. After that experiment failed, I gave up the dream for quite awhile. I tried console gaming in the living room, but with only that one TV, that didn't go over well either. I just recently tried a new approach, and it's worked out great. I got a nice 24" monitor, put it on a short small chair/stool in front of my easy chair, moved my desktop behind the easy chair and set it up on a wireless network adapter. Throw in a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and a set of headphones, and all issues have been resolved! I have a perfect PC gaming experience, and can also watch TV and converse with the wife.

But like you said, your kids and the cables might not mix.

SpaceDog wrote:

The question is is there anything wrong with doing your own thing at night (not every night obviously but most nights). The way I look at my girlfriends (I'm not yet old enough to take the plunge) is they are efectivley very good friends. I would never want to spend every night with any of my other friends so why would I want to spend every night with my missus? That is one of the many reasons why I love my desktop. I don't have the option of siting in the lounge to play games I have to sit in my den. With most of my ex's I have had this philosophy aprt from my last when I was going through a Civ 4 phase which killed that relationship (just one more turn anybody?).

But then again I'm an oddball who looks at the world to logicaly. The way I see it you start dating a women and then from that moment she has to be the most important thing in your life. More important than your hobbies more important even then your mate who you have been good friends with for the last 6 years I just don't think that makes much sence at all which is why I take a stand when it comes to me upgrading and I have a nagging voice in my ear that says "Get a laptop we'll be able to spend more time together." My answer is allways "Good god you want me to spend more time with you."

If/when you have kids and the responsibilities of adulthood, it'll make more sense. Time with your significant other becomes rare and precious.

MeatMan wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:
Spaz wrote:

I melted my nads off while playing World of WarCraft: Cataclysm.

Had to do it.

Fixed for better specificity.

Are you kidding? The nad melting will happen long before Cataclysm comes out. But hey, it's probably cheaper than a vasectomy.

beeporama wrote:

If/when you have kids and the responsibilities of adulthood, it'll make more sense. Time with your significant other becomes rare and precious.

I can understand that when you have kids your time is drasticly reduced. But at what point does your wife/partner/girlfriend/whatever the kids are calling it these days become more important than A. Having time to yourself and B. The rest of your friends?

Don't take that the wrong way. I'm not saying it's not important to spend time with your better half I'm just saying having a desktop gives you the freedom to have time to yourself. Whereas if you have a laptop if you don't have the exuse that you want to play games so you'll be in the den.

It’s not like I’m buying an Apple, people.

He He.

Don't take that the wrong way. I'm not saying it's not important to spend time with your better half I'm just saying having a desktop gives you the freedom to have time to yourself.

I won't take that the wrong way, if you don't take it the wrong way when I say getting marital advice from the unmarried is like getting child rearing advice from someone without kids. It's really well intentioned, but not particularly informed.

I know I had a lot of ideas about how marriage and raising kids was going to go before I had wither a wife or child. Man, I didn't have a clue.

I have been playing away since 2005 on my Asus Core Duo 17" laptop. But really need a new machine now. Found some good tips in here!
Still, I think I want a desktop, as my wife will be sitting behind her iMac 24" ....

Elysium wrote:

I won't take that the wrong way, if you don't take it the wrong way when I say getting marital advice from the unmarried is like getting child rearing advice from someone without kids. It's really well intentioned, but not particularly informed.

I know I had a lot of ideas about how marriage and raising kids was going to go before I had wither a wife or child. Man, I didn't have a clue.

Touché

OCZ offers several "Do It Yourself Gaming Laptop" kits.

http://www.ocztechnology.com/product...

Keep researching, but this might be a viable option to get the best bang for your buck.

Not that it's any of my business Ely, but have you shared this with Elysia and are just giving us the gaming-point of view to discuss?

Because there could be more to this barrier and "ships in the night" than a desktop vs laptop and physical proximity.

And by "could be more" is my way of saying "you're darn right there's more" without passing too much judgement to relationships outside my own.

I really wouldn't read that much into an article that I wrote in the frame of reference of being entertaining for a readership as opposed to being an accurate diagnosis of my marriage.

Elysium wrote:

I really wouldn't read that much into an article that I wrote in the frame of reference of being entertaining for a readership as opposed to being an accurate diagnosis of my marriage.

Don't get me wrong, didn't mean anything by it and I'm sure we'll see a Gamers in Marriage Counsel thread long before marital problems are posted on the front page for public debate and discussion.

Moving on then, even for those of us who do get a sanctuary for our hobby (be it video games or underwater-basket-weaving) will see the room in a different light every once in a while.

I remember moving from "aah, the peace and quiet needed to properly play Counter Strike" to "Holy crap! where the hell is everyone?" back to "man, I need peace and quiet".

Maybe a healthier diet of WoW + something console-ish that allows family involvement on any degree: My wife easily gets sick when I play FPS and anything with rapid camera movement. So we went to the shallow end of the pool and took a Wii which we can both play everyone in a while (Mariokart and anything sport themed as well as a couple of Virtual Console games she loves) without her getting headaches for staring at the screen in two minutes.

I've essentially done the same thing as you, Elysium. When we (we at the time being myself, my wife and our 2-year-old son) moved into our current home, 3+ years ago, I set up the typical basement home theater area. Also in the basement, I set up my own office. Oh, sure, I intended for the family to make frequent use of the big screen and surround sound, but that rarely occurred. I also had every intention of my wife making use of the office, her presence therein was scarce at best. The basement was my place, my man-cave, my sanctuary. Historic battles were waged on the gridiron in Madden. Bards sang of the epic adventures in WoW. Borderline criminally abusive 12-year-olds pwned my ass in Gears of War. I loved it.

A few years (and the birth of one more child) later, things have changed. I don't want that place to myself anymore. The office has moved to a proper office/study on the main floor. I bought a new 24" monitor with HDMI, specifically so I can have my PC and PS3 all in the same place. I've moved from surround sound speakers to surround sound headphones. Sure, I still retire to the office, but this new gaming haven doesn't seem as disconnected from the family anymore. My wife can just walk over from the living room for us to talk, or visa versa. I'm within earshot of the kids upstairs if one of them wakes up. There's just something about it which feels better. I enjoy my games just as much as in my days as a morlock. I certainly feel like a better husband and father. That's just me, though.

Gaming preferences change. Game how you feel comfortable.

Whew.

I was worried you were going to say you're giving up PC gaming altogether.

My desktop PC is in the living room so I can definitely understand the appeal of a gaming laptop if there's no suitable way to put a desktop PC in yours.

Great article that I am sure to experience soon but for now im a newlywed =p

When I made the jump from PC to Mac, I also made the jump from a desktop to a laptop. I've never once regretted it.

I'm in a very similar position to you, Elysium... My wife and I have two kids (4 and 2). I've been playing games in my den, for the last few years, but we now need to convert that into another bedroom. We only have a three bedroom abode, and my four year old son is ready to move out of his sister's room.

This caused me an enormous amount of stress trying to decide how I was going to continue my WoW obsession, and give up my den at the same time. 'Cause, you know, I can't give up the WoW.

Anyway, we decided to go the laptop route, as well. Our PC, while a workhorse for the last few years, was on it's way out, and I was tired of the same old same old Windows stuff. We went with a MacBook Pro. And not just a normal one. I get a discount at the Apple store and the price difference between the 15" and 17" was only a couple hundred bucks, so I talked the wifey into the 17".

We are both very happy! It's only 6.6 pounds so she can easily use it on her lap, so it serves double duty. It does get hot after a couple hours of gaming, but I just throw a towel under it and can still keep going. I've already been snipped so I'm not worried about future Stickbugs, anyways.

The chance to reteach my brain by using something different was a huge selling point for me, as well. I've used WinPCs since my days playing Might and Magic and some title by Sierra software that eludes me. I'm ready for some Snow Leopard, baby!

Wow, my first post here got a lot longer than I planned. Sorry.

Good luck with the new laptop! For my relationship it really works, and I get to add another bedroom to my house!

TheStickbug wrote:

Wow, my first post here got a lot longer than I planned. Sorry.

Great post. Let me be the first to welcome you to the site.