Old-timer trying to get back into gaming

Old-timer trying to get back into gaming


Getting back into gaming after nearly a decade hiatus

I have been trying to return to the PC game review business after being out of it for several years. I originally started being interested in computers and the games that could be played on them way back before the PC even started to become popular. A couple of guys working out of their garage discovered that people could have a computer in their home and the rest is history. I bought a Commodore 64 and was amazed by what could be done with them. Yes, I am a dinosaur and I know it. This is my story.

Soon PC related games came about and I got in to role playing, sims and even the occasional action shooter which I was really never much good at but they were fun. I tried the various Call of Duty and Duke Nukem shooters but I really loved the Battle Tech and Mech Warrior games and I played them all. When DOS was replaced by Windows, I continued on to titles such as Sim City, The Sims and then eventually to a nice little game by legendary computer game developer Sid Meier called Pirates! This is when I met the Hooked Gamers founder and a bunch of other guys that loved the game and PC games in general. Those were the “good old days.”

The title of this article might not indicate exactly what this piece is all about and I'll tell you why. Since I'm in the process of trying to get back in the game, so to speak, I want to talk about what it’s like starting over again. This is a story about what it might be like for an older guy like me that in the past was so heavily in to games that he wrote reviews about them. I don't think there can be any dispute of the fact that as time moves on, things change. Things change even quicker in the technology world and in PC and video games. Expectations, however, do not change, especially for dinosaurs like myself that are living in the past.

When I first decided that I wanted to start playing PC games again, I went out and bought what I figured would be a decent lower end desktop game computer from a guy on the internet. Mistake number one because I had a lot of problems involving a small hard disk and the fact that the Windows 7 OS was never registered which was a very big problem. That's a part of the story but in reality it's a story in stupidity and being overly trusting as far as Internet transactions go. The second mistake was that the computer had 8 gigs of RAM memory and a lower end 4 core, 64 bit AMD CPU. I thought it would be sufficient to play some games that could be run on minimal recommended machine specifications. I was thinking like it was 20 or 30 years ago!

Eventually I got the machine running OK (with it's unregistered copy of Windows 7) but I soon found out that I couldn't just go out to the PC game store like I did some 20 odd years ago to buy an interesting title. Stores like that no longer exist and the ones that do, like Game Stop, do not carry anything concerning the PC. Everything in the brick and mortar stores is a “video game” intended for game consoles. I looked at a couple of former favorite places to buy cheap games for the PC such as Target or Walmart only to find nothing. The titles they have are over-priced, old and the selection is extremely sparse. Not worth even bothering.

I like to research things on the Internet and although I knew about places such as Steam, I really wasn't sure what else was out there and then how to actually go about using them. In my search I found a list of what apparently are the top legitimate game download sites and I'll list them for you from top to bottom. Steam, GOG, G2A, Origin, PC Games, Ocean of Games, Softpedia and Skidrow Reloaded. There's also a list of the top sites for downloading Android games but I don't want to get in to that because I do not play games on my cell phone. Even if I wanted to use a cell phone as a game platform, my old flip phone can't do it. That's just more evidence that I indeed am a dinosaur.

Since I knew about Steam beforehand and since that's what Hooked Gamers uses then that was the one I chose to use. All of the game download sites that I listed above came with pro and con comments. Those comments ranged from the available games being old to the site being unsafe to use and the site itself not being well maintained. Steam's most notable con was that its offerings were “rather pricey”. That didn't bother me because Hooked Gamers uses Steam mainly as a hub to get titles to their writers for review.

The next step was to get a Steam account and to start learning how to use it. Since I am computer literate having many years of online and PC system and gaming experience, getting accustomed to Steam was not difficult. Even with that being said, I started having problems from the get go. I blame that on my lack of having a computer that can actually play computer games produced in the 21st century where we presently are. It could play games from 10 years ago, but not today's titles. I failed at getting my first assignment, Panzer Strategy, which I really wanted to review going. My unregistered copy of Windows 7 (that the builder of the computer installed) kept locking up after maybe a few minutes of game play. To me, this was an indication that the computer either had some OS problems or that it just did not have the needed horse power. Upgrading an already known weak link isn't worth it.

My computer in reality can't even play old DOS games and I have tried because I wanted to try to relive my excitement from the past! It's too new, if that makes any sense. Trying to get a 16 bit DOS game running on a 64 bit Windows 7 or 10 system is possible but it's not easy. You need to run it in Windows DOS mode or on a DOS emulator and when doing that, in my opinion, most of the time it does not work very well. If you are able to actually get a DOS game to run and I have the experience doing that, it is a big disappointment. Honestly, the effort is not worth it. If you want to play old DOS games from 20 or 30 years ago then go to a museum or a junk yard and they might be able to sell you an old piece of junk. A lot of old games including DOS titles are available for free. I'm not interested in doing that because I'm already living in the past and I don't feel like going back even further. I'll just stick with what I have and do the best that I can.

So what are my plans concerning my future in reviewing PC games? With the discussion above and due to my apparent failure I'm pretty much at a standstill. Sure, I could go out and buy a new computer that is better able to play PC games but, being on an extremely limited budget, I can't do that. I thought about building or upgrading but that's not viable and for the same reason. Computer parts can be even more expensive than actually buying a new computer. It's not like it was 30 years ago. There certainly are some very nice options for systems intended to handle today's titles but that will have to wait. Walmart has some nice offerings by HP, Dell and Msi. Also maybe in the future. My plans right now are to play some older titles from the early 2000s for fun and to do some online Battle Royale games. My game reviewing will be put on the back burner for now and I'll be writing special interest stuff like this piece. Thank you for reading...