Too old too fast
This is a glorious age we live in where we are blessed with the amazing machines called computers, and we have developed a global community that cannot live without computers in our daily lives. It is truly awe inspiring to see how fast things have changed due to the introduction of this technology. Communication itself has been revolutionized completely; but has anyone ever considered that the technology may be moving too fast?
There is an interesting term dubbed ‘futureshock’ by Toffler in the 70’s, condensing the idea that at some point, where it will come so quickly that the future will become the present too soon for people to adapt to it. Literally people become shocked by the future because it becomes so unpredictable. Computers double in processing capacity roughly every 18 months and it has stuck to that trend. There are constant updates on operating systems, graphics, processors, displays, and just about everything you could think of every single year. Not every 5 years, or 10 years, but every single year. It is moving at a rate where computers become outdated within a span of 2 years, and obsolete at 5 years.
This is very hard on the wallet of the average family of gamers or even the average student who consider gaming a worthy area of study. It would be hard pressed for parents to want to shell out another $2000 every 5 years purchase a new state of the art computer when it could be used for a nice vacation or even a used car. And sure a student could just settle for a tiny little Eee PC to do their homework, but it’s just not the same without any graphical prowess. Heck, even a nicely equipped laptop bought 2 years ago most likely wouldn’t be able to handle Vista’s demanding requirements very well. The terms videocard and laptop didn’t even coincide in the same sentence back then. Even now it’s very difficult to get a gaming worthy laptop for under the $1500 mark, though you’re more likely to have to spend $2000 or more in the end. Take a look at the Dell XPS series and you get a good idea. If Dell is expensive then something has gone awry.
Turning over to the mighty desktop it might seem like it would be more affordable, but think again. Let’s try a simple update of a P4 system. Remember that the P4 only went out of development in about 2004-2005. The latest graphics card will cost you $300-500 easy, then on top of that you need the high speed RAM to match your shiny new card, maybe a sound card for the audiophiles out there, and then you better have the 22" display to match or your HD capabilities just go to waste. All that is considering that your processor was top of the line when you purchased it or else consider getting a spanking new quad processor on top of everything. And don’t forget that your motherboard might already need a walker by now and you’ll need a whole new mama to be compatible with all these components. All of a sudden you have a completely new gaming computer, minus the extreme cooling systems, awesome lighting, and stellar casing that comes with the gaming PCs of today. So you might as well have chipped out that $2500 cheque to get a new one. It’s no wonder the PC isn’t considered green, and instead it represents the epitome of the throw-away generation.
Is there a solution? Hopefully. Vista with all its faults and its seemingly extreme minimum requirements has managed to push the standard up. Video cards are now a must. No video, no way. That has managed to change the industry alongside the capabilities of the ever growing Mac line-ups. Standards are changing, but still not to the point where it is accessible and affordable for the average consumers yet. Most people are still weary of building their own computer, or upgrading it in anyway. But we are gamers! We can build our own computers! It is still very expensive to constantly upgrade especially if gaming limits are being pushed. The average market PC will never catch up to the gaming standard until a plateau is reached. It may be possible that there may not be much left beyond HD. I mean why would you want graphics better than what your eyes can distinguish? Dumb question? Not really. Seriously, if we moved beyond HD it would only be a waste of processing power and memory. There is still some wiggle room regarding more advanced interactivity through artificial intelligence or physics, but those are going to reach a limit soon as well.
The hope is that the graphics race will end soon and creativity will move towards gameplay once again, so that everyone can play without having to buy the best of the best especially when computers get too old too fast nowadays. It may seem counter intuitive for things to slow down, but alongside the whole green movement sweeping the planet it is necessary in order for things to be reinvented. Who knows. We may have a component PC one day that can be updated without replacing the whole component. Maybe we can tack on a little more RAM here and there, or stick on some more processors by literally adding sticking it on. No need to throw away 4 processors to buy 8. Just buy 4 more! That’s the hope anyway…..