For the first time, in March 2021, after multiple decades of videogames, I purchased a “Gaming” computer. I’ve played games on a computer before, but now, according to my ROG STRIX’s plastic shell, I’ve joined the “Republic of Gamers.” My older laptop, that could play some Steam games sometimes, just said “Thinkpad” on it. So I have evolved. Jumping into Real PC Gaming for the first time, I ran into some things I’ve never had to deal with before.
Most of this stuff will hardly be anything for folks used to this space, but I was pretty tickled by my own ignorance. Maybe you will be too, and having a laugh at my own expense can be fun sometimes. So let’s turn this experience into a list, I figured. So here are 5 things I encountered as a PC gaming newbie I’ve never dealt with before.
5 Strange Experiences I had with my First Gaming PC
So like, I’ve been aware of the whole RGB thing, from the outside looking in. And lemme tell ya, it’s pretty wacky from the outside. I’ve never had a console or gaming device glow rainbow colors at me, but PC gaming culture seems to thrive on it. No matter what, if I wanted a laptop with the juice I wanted, I was gonna deal with lights.
I’ve never had to go into a settings menu to play with light bulbs before. Now, after clicking through all kinds of different options, colors and patterns, my keyboard is set to change color based on its internal temperature. I really don’t know what sort of human can tolerate blinking lights or the red one that zooms around the plastic shell like a TRON lightcycle, but that was an option.
I’ve never had to really deal with a GPU before, especially in relation to the other computer parts working together. On my older machine, all I had to do was set the battery to High Performance mode, and make sure the thing defaulted to the Nvidia card instead of whatever the integrated graphics was. I figured that was all I needed to do here, but I was wrong.
This computer has a RTX 2070 in it, 16 gigs o’ RAM and a big boy i7 CPU. I booted up Nier Automata thanks to Game Pass being a thing (the save files for that are isolated through, go figure), and watched the settings default to the highest available. The hype was real! Then, after just a few moments of crisp, 60+ frames per second play, the stuttering began.
I didn’t know what was causing it, but I’ve been a help desk guy before so I knew to start snooping around. I bought this thing “open box” of course, so I was all on my own. I settled on some bloatware I was ignoring called “ARMOURY CRATE,” which I figured was just like a Mountain Dew delivery service or something. Instead, it was where the “real” power settings lived. Now I’m truly gaming.
Nonsense Error Messages
I had a hard time actually starting a Game Pass game for a while. Steam seemed to be fine, but the Xbox app was telling me I didn’t have an internet connection. Several unanswered support forum threads later, I finally found out I had to change a “proxy” setting that was on by default. And to do that I had to mess around in the Command Prompt Phantom Zone. But I wasn’t done yet, oh no.
source: microsoft support forums
The app let me in, but I still couldn’t download anything. Because of that ridiculous proxy thing, I hadn’t actually logged into my Microsoft account. I have a local user login set up (and probably would’ve done it regardless), and my Microsoft account is totally different from my decade-old Live Dot Com creds I use for Xbox Live. But my downloads just wouldn’t start.
I don’t even remember what the error message said that time, but I can assure you it was nowhere near “log into the Microsoft Store, dumbass.” Turns out if you aren’t logged into the Microsoft Store, some level of authentication will fail in an Entirely Separate Application. Of course it won’t tell you why, but groups of frustrated Microsoft forum members (y’all do god’s work) eventually will. After logging in there, I… well, I just downloaded Game Pass games there instead.
I don’t mind having multiple storefront apps downloaded. They all remember my credentials and resetting passwords is easy enough. It’s all digital content I don’t own anyway, so arbitrary frontends are the least of my problems. But why does every goddamn thing I touch to play videogames have to have an overlay? All the game stores? Overlays. Branded software? Overlay. Nvidia driver software? Overlay. Even the Xbox app and Windows’ Xbox controller software have separate overlays.
Why does this bother me? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t use them, and I could probably turn them all off. There’s just something about these cascading overlays that bothers me on a more principal level. I don’t like ‘em.
Wait, why do I need more than 60 fps anyway? The screen is 240Hz??? Can my eyes even perceive that stuff? I’m sitting right in front of this thing! Am I an esports now? As a citizen of the Republic of Gamers am I being drafted into mandatory Valorant gameplay sessions or Fortnite streams? Why am I being shown the decibel level of my fans? I can tell it’s loud! I noticed! My Switch fan kicks on sometimes too but I don’t have Donkey Kong screeching dBAs at me. Jesus Christ.
Like I said, new space. I’ve been a consoles-only videogames player for my whole life, only sometimes dabbling in gaming on low to mid-range laptops via things like emulators or non-demanding games. It’s like I’ve opened a familiar-looking door, but everything on the other side of it is a melting, cybernetic hellscape I must come to understand before it consumes my selfsense. I hope we all had some fun today. I’m only just a little performatively confused, still.
Anyway, I played some Sonic Generations on this thing the other day and it was pretty cool.
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