PC elitism is a perceived frame of thinking that is commonly applied to PC-only gamers. It describes a group of gamers who promote the PC as the ultimate platform for gaming, while doing as much as possible to belittle consoles, its games, and its players.
Anyone who chooses to be dismissive about an opposing product are also inadvertently criticising the wisdom of any who use it, as well as their personality.
For the most part, this term leads to most fan-fuelled arguments: a very staunch and stubborn exchange of opinions and diatribe. As a format, the PC has a longer established history, and one that generally favoured the DIY approach for tasks such as game and system creation. It’s a property that exists through to today, and represents the most significant polar opposite to the world of console gaming.
What is it, however, that compels people to act in such a manner? Why is it so necessary to defend ones choices as a gamer against the choices of another?
Put simply? It’s a pride issue.
"Other products, where the implications of purchase are greater due to price, need for research, and [their] ability to broadcast one’s personality and beliefs, tend to be ‘high involvement’", suggests Patrick Hanlon, who’s book Primal Branding: Create Zealots for Your Company takes a look at the psychological aspects of branding. Gaming machines of any kind are expensive, but they’re not a critical life accessory. They tap into our desire for entertainment, one that is influenced by our personality. Not only is it more difficult to admit that an expensive purchase is ill-suited (prompting the start of a defensive standpoint when called out about it), these machines can be act as a window to our personalities. Anyone who chooses to be dismissive about an opposing product are also inadvertently criticising the wisdom of any who use it, as well as their personality.
Uniting around these brands or objects that allow people to represent their personalities is also key. Seeking out like-minded individuals is much easier if there is something to bring them all together.
What is less explainable, however, is why there’s a need to even fight to begin. For argument’s sake, let’s compare PC gaming to the PS3. If each side has their own group of loyal proponents, how do arguments even break out? Shouldn’t they just resolve to sit on their respective side of the fence and leave it be?
Shouldn’t [gamers] just resolve to sit on their respective side of the fence and leave it be?
As it stands, the gaming industry has little to separate itself amongst the various options. This unification has had a perceived significant influence on PC gaming, where it’s suggested that the market for dedicated, hardware optimised games has decreased. As well as this, the strengths and merits of the consoles have encroached upon a format that is not suited for them, and has replaced their own advantages in turn.
This melding of worlds (as it were) comes right back around to the notion of pride. Blending the worlds together removes the aspect of personal connection to it, as it’s not the same world it once was. In many respects, this is a fair reaction: if one identifies personally with something, it is generally not because they want that thing to change. That isn’t to say that change is a bad thing, but it’s very easy to lose sight of what made something so identifiable in the first place.
The best option going forward is to simply remain open. While it’s easy to bemoan and lambaste the opposing side, it’s more beneficial to let things play out and try to influence those events in a constructive manner.
Let me say something straight up: I’m a PC gamer. I have 300 games on Steam, I update my graphics drivers, I get BSODs, and struggle with horrible PC ports of console games. Does this make me an elitist? Of course not. The PC is simply my primary platform for gaming. It’s convenient – all my other hobbies happen to be computer-oriented as well. I can finish playing a game on my PC, and immediately do something else: programming, browse my RSS feeds, watch a video or two, or even write an invert-x article.
I know the PC isn’t the only platform in the world; my DS probably gets more use than my PC in terms of raw gaming hours. I have two stacks of PS3 and Wii games on my coffee table, and a bunch of Xbox 360 and GameCube games in my shelf. What I’m trying to say, in a roundabout kind of way, is that I’m not a PC elitist, even though I consider the PC to be my main gaming platform.
Let’s back up for a second: What, exactly, am I talking about when I say "PC elitist"? Elitism is, in a nutshell, the attitude that you are better than everyone else – that you view everyone else as inferior to yourself. PC elitism is exactly that – people who only play PC games, and look down on people who play on other platforms. Most of the time, they’re extremely vocal about it, too.
But why do these individuals take it upon themselves to point out why everyone else is such an idiot for enjoying console games? In the end, it comes down to insecurity, much like any form of aggression. The popularity of consoles has brought gaming into the mainstream, but now the PC is not as popular as it was ten years ago. The PC elitists think that the consoles are threatening the very existence of their favourite platform, and therefore see it as a threat that must be eliminated.
Depending on the games you play and the websites you frequent, you might think that I’m in a minority and that most PC gamers are elitists. That’s an incorrect assumption: fact is, it’s the elitists who are the minority here – it’s just a case of them being a very loud minority. Don’t get me wrong, PC elitists exist, and there’s plenty of them – but no more than their console elitist counterparts.
I would consider anyone who claims that any gaming platform is "better" than any other to be an elitist. Now that’s different to somebody who simply prefers one system for whatever reason – whether it be controls, game library, ease-of-use, price, or whatever. Ultimately, we’re all doing this so that we can play games. But, in my opinion, if somebody blindly ignores a platform due to elitism, there’s a very high chance that they will miss out on a game that they would have loved. While everybody else is enjoying games on various platforms, the elitist is missing out. And that sucks.