Last week, I tried to get a game running on my computer. Something was weird. I went to Google and found a very specific list of instructions for how to fix it. A few minutes later, I’d solved the problem.
If you have spent any time with PC gaming, you almost certainly have your own version of this story. Playing video games on a computer means accepting the fact that you will have to spend a fair amount of time troubleshooting, poking and prodding at finicky parts of your machine until everything works.
Being a PC gamer means that sometimes a game will stop running, inexplicably, and then a few days later it will just work again.
Last week, when I tried playing Far Cry 5 with my DualShock 4 plugged in – it’s just so much more comfortable than a mouse and keyboard; stop judging – I realised that the d-pad wasn’t working. The game would tell me to press the “up” button to use my binoculars, but when I did, nothing happened.
My thought process went something like this: Damnit, there’s no in-game way to fix this. Should I just play the whole game without binoculars? It will be kind of a fun challenge. Should I just order a new controller? I wonder if other people have run into this problem. Should I write about this on Kotaku?
A bit of Twitter searching led me to this solution (thanks, BadgerGlue1):
Bam. I followed those instructions and now everything is great. Not only is the d-pad working perfectly, the button prompts are now showing up correctly. (Before, in Far Cry 5 and other games, I would see Xbox button prompts even with a PS4 controller.) Fixing this particular problem was rewarding in its own way, sort of like solving a puzzle in a video game.
People who play primarily on consoles might read Kotaku articles like this one and wonder just why the hell anyone would use a PC. Why spend so much time on a finicky piece of hardware when you could just plug in an Xbox One and get things working without a hassle?
Here’s one answer: Because the finickiness is part of the fun. Over the past few months, I’ve come to appreciate the weird quirks of high-end PC gaming, and I’ve come to enjoy the puzzle-solving that comes with trying to discern what went wrong.
I might change my mind in a few months, when my computer randomly won’t turn on and I have to waste an entire weekend trying to figure out why, but at least for now, I’ve grown to embrace it all.
Having a super-high-resolution and 60+ frames-per-second is also a good reason to play video games on a PC.