Steamed

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Steamed

My wife doesn’t know this yet, but we’re getting a Playstation for Christmas. Or maybe an Xbox. I haven’t decided.

Either way, this gift is a purely altruistic offering to my daughters. They’ve been so good about playing Minecraft on their hand-me-down original iPad and iPhone 3s. (Yes, they play Minecraft on an iPhone 3s — don’t ask me how.) Our family is due for an equipment upgrade, and it’s time for my daughters to take another step into the larger gaming world.

And if that means that Daddy gets to play Call of Duty every once in a while, that’s just something we’ll have to suffer.

I hope that I’m not giving the wrong impression. We’re not gaming nerds by any stretch of the imagination. In the last 20 years, we’ve owned exactly three gaming consoles: the Nintendo Entertainment System (which we still have), a PlayStation 2 (which we never used) and the Nintendo Wii.

Of the three, we enjoy the Wii the most. Just Dance 4 notwithstanding, Wii Resort is the hands-down favorite. The sword fight battles are epic. The aerial combat is vicious. And who can’t resist a 100-pin bowling family throw down!

The next couple of weeks will witness the release of the next generation of gaming consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony are upgrading their products. Both new consoles come with improved specs — Xbox One ships with Connect 2.0 and Playstation 4 ships with a new Dualshock 4 contoller.

Both systems improve upon the social side of their gaming environment and online services. A couple of spec mismatches have appeared — Xbox One is capable of playing MP3s, Playstation 4 doesn’t; Playstation 4 presents Call of Duty Ghosts at native 1080p, Xbox One translates from 720p, for example. I don’t think we know enough at this point to definitively say one system is better than the other.

We do know that it is going to be hard to get one. If you are planning on purchasing either the Xbox One or the PS4, be advised that pre-ordering has already closed. If you have to have one this year, plan on camping out.

Recently, many folks are embracing an alternative to the traditional gaming console. The alternative is not so much a replacement as it is a revival of PC gaming. Over the past year, Valve Corporation released a series of products focused on bringing PC gaming into the living room.

The central product is its SteamOS operating system. The Linux-based operating system is optimized to meet the needs of gaming. In addition, the software is based on an open architecture model, allowing users to select the best hardware for their needs. Hardware running SteamOS download games directly from Valve’s online library for over 3,000 titles. Also, Valve has developed a new controller that promises to be an improvement over traditional controllers.

As with other application environments, the success of SteamOS hinge on the developers. Will developers port existing software and create new applications to this Linux-based variant? Time will tell, but, for now, the momentum is in Valve’s favor.

 

Until next time, I’m off the grid @gregory_a_baker.