I’m not a hardcore computer gamer. I never was, if we’re honest, but as I get older and busier I find myself with less and less time, energy, and interest to devote to gaming. Part of the problem is that I finish one or maybe two games a year, and another is that it seems like every time I turn around my Windows PC has become too obsolete to run any fairly recent releases. (My work computer runs Linux, and before anyone mentions WINE – it’s a little fanless dual-core Atom. Cheap, quiet, and quite power-efficient, yes… just not very good for cutting-edge Windows gaming.) And even if I want to play an older game, it seems like half the time I’ve got to sit around twiddling my thumbs for an hour or three first while Steam updates or Java updates, or something like that.
So, for the last year or two, most of my gaming has not been done on Windows at all, but on Android. I have an Android tablet, but I mostly use it as an e-reader, because I find it an ergonomic nightmare for gaming, and don’t like worrying about charging the dumb thing. (Also because I prefer to use a stylus with the tablet, and my cat has a compulsive desire to attack any fast-moving stylus he sees, alas.) That being said, though, I quite like a lot of things that the mobile gaming market has brought about: a steady supply of new games that don’t require bleeding-edge hardware, are well-suited to casual gaming of twenty minutes here or an hour there, and which don’t cost an arm and a leg. They also tend to be of modest size (in terms of megabytes), which is a blessing when you live in the ghetto and have snail-slow Internet access. (Bioshock Infinite would take close to a week to download from Steam, on my sloooooow ADSL line. I’m sure BI kicks butt, but I downloaded Kemco’s hilarious (and free) RPG Machine Knight – all 31MB of it – and was playing on Android in less than an hour. And Machine Knight hasn’t given me motion-sickness even once, whereas pretty much every 3D first-person game does, quite quickly, but that’s just me.)
Enter my $70 gaming rig – one of those oft-maligned Chinese “Android TV” sticks.
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