Back in the early 2000s I was an avid PC gamer. I was bordering on addicted to Everquest and Counterstrike. Besides those two, I’d soak up the likes of Deus Ex, Baldur’s Gate 2, The Sims, Age of Empires, Fahrenheit, the list goes on. I didn’t just love the gaming side of things, I loved building PCs. Back in 2000-2001 I won a Geforce256, at the time a £300 graphic card and a huge improvement on my paltry onboard graphics. I built a whole system around it, a rather ‘impressive’ AMD K6-2 500mhz with 64mb RAM (I think). It was amazing, Soldier of Fortune looked brilliant on it.
I continued building PCs over the next few years and loving it all. I adored installing a new graphics card, benchmarking it and testing out various settings to see which worked best.

But as time went on, I got lazy. And poor. While at University, I couldn’t afford much so I stuck with my PS2 and Gamecube, and the PC didn’t get upgraded. It could run Serious Sam, Counterstrike and Call of Duty so that was fine for me. The PC gaming lust just gradually faded away. The ease of just putting a disc in and instantly playing was overwhelming.

I never quite gave up on PC gaming. Although I had an Xbox to go alongside the PS2 and Gamecube, I still played on the PC a bit. Mostly World of Warcraft with my boyfriend at the time. But gradually the PC was becoming more of a tool than a gaming system.

Then the Xbox 360 came along for me in 2006. By this time I was living in Stafford for a year undertaking a Msc. I was the poorest I’d ever been so the PC had no chance of being upgraded. I was already having to sacrifice food in favour of 360 games. I got hooked on achievements and regularly rented via Swapgame.

It got worse for the PC and me. After finishing in Stafford I bought myself a new PC. A Dell. Something that didn’t need any fiddling or tweaking, it just worked. It didn’t have a great graphics card but it was enough to keep me going. As the writing was taking off a little, it was handy to keep my hand in and undertake various PC reviews. But the true love wasn’t quite there.

Then as the final blow to my poor desktop PC. I had a car accident at the start of 2008. Besides writing off my beloved car, I’d also damaged my shoulder. This meant that I couldn’t sit at a desk for extended periods of time without pain. I still had PC games to review and write about so I decided to get a laptop so that I could sit on a sofa and rest my back/shoulder.
Really this laptop was the final nail in the coffin where upgrades were concerned. I’d taken the easy route, the route with the minimum of effort. But it worked out well.

Having said that, excluding MMOs, I felt no great urge to play many games on the PC. I was still hooked on achievements and my 360. Not a great position to be in when you consider the career I wish to pursue. Little bit too narrow.

I bought a Wii after my Dad’s death to keep my brain occupied. It didn’t really work. Wii Sports was great but the fad only lasted so long. But the seeds were there, I started noticing more Wii games that I wanted to play. I just never got round to it though.

Then this summer I broke my foot, which wrecked any plans I had for the rest of the year. While sitting in A&E waiting to be seen, I was formulating a plan. As soon as I got home with my ridiculously huge and painful foot, I logged onto Amazon and ordered myself a PS3. I just about had enough money thanks to some wise saving previously, so although I knew a price cut was bound to happen soon, I figured ‘Sod it, it’ll keep me sane’. Over the course of the summer I threw myself into as many PS3 exclusives as I could. I played Ghostbusters to death first of all, then completed Uncharted (great but flawed), played some of Killzone 2 (didn’t really like it but I will finish it at some point), one level of Resistance (again, didn’t grab me), Little Big Planet (LOVED it), Valkyria Chronicles (great but tough), oh and Katamari Forever. Finally I had a terrific time with Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PS3 and then Uncharted 2.

Perhaps that was the start of it, seeing further than my beige box of Microsoft goodness. I wasn’t an Xbox fanboy in any way previously, but I never seemed to find the time to expand my horizons as much as I should have.

The Wii started being used more. I explored the shop channel more. I rented Super Mario Galaxy and loved it. There was Cate West: The Vanishing Files, a really surprisingly enjoyable title that really deserved a mention. Hell, I even enjoyed SimAnimals: Africa which I really didn’t expect! The Wii still suffered from my reluctance to buy much for it (especially with a low income!) but in terms of rentals and desires to review the titles, it had a huge boost.

As the weeks went on and the boredom increased as I continued to be laid up with my foot, I needed more variety. Opportunity came my way in the form of Champions Online, Aion, Tropico 3 and Cities XL on the PC.

And, well, there comes the ‘dark’ side. I quickly realised that my laptop was no longer really cutting it, especially when it came to previewing DiRT2 on it.

So thanks to some wise saving (again), I bought myself a new laptop. One that’s just a bit more capable than the last one. It’s meant that the past two weeks, I’ve hardly gamed on my 360 or my PS3 or Wii. Instead I’ve been a solid PC gamer. I finally bought Football Manager 2010 which is dangerously addictive, I’ve got Aion, Fallen Earth and Star Trek Online to keep me busy now. Oh and Steam keeps trying to lure me into spending more money. I’ve already bought Plants vs. Zombies but now I want more. Really I just want to say sod it and buy the entire Popcap Collection but I’ve resisted. DiRT2 finally runs well and I love it once more. I also have a great urge to resubscribe to World of Warcraft for a bit, and even Everquest 1.

My urge to 360 game? Dragon Age: Origins. That’s honestly it at the moment. Even with my gamerscore less than 2k away from 100k.

As a sign of just where my interests currently lay. For Christmas I’ve asked for Broken Sword: The Director’s Cut on the Wii and Metal Gear Solid 4 on the PS3. I already had everything I wanted for the 360 so there didn’t seem any point asking for another 360 game.

It’s no doubt just a phase but I really enjoy the variety at the moment. It feels so much more exciting than when I was tying myself into the one system.

Anyway, needs must. I need to go win the league then follow it up with a rally victory or two. Ooh and perhaps a spot of Peggle too.

A return to the ‘dark’ side
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