Living with two roommates who don’t share my movie, music, and gaming enthusiasm means I have to use headphones at all times. You could say I have a mild headphone fetish, and over the years, I’ve tried a dozen of them. From the humble beginnings of generic Wal-mart Sony earphones, then the Shure E2C earphones, the venerable Grado SD60’s, and the Audio Technica ATH-A500. Audio quality, comfort, and build quality are all top criterias I look into when checking out headphones/earphones.
Now I am trying out the Icemat Siberia Headset, which retails for $80. Icemat has the luxury of creating gamer-approved mousepads in an industry where there aren’t many competitors. With headphones, however, it’s a saturated market. Aiming them at gamers means you not only have to have features that gamers crave (like being affordable, durable, and have a great soundstage — more on this later), but it must also exhibit superb sound quality.
A decade ago, before I really got into PC gaming, I had your generic ball mouse and mousepad that you’d find at any Walmart. It wasn’t until I started to heavily game online (on a 56k modem, no less) in Quake 2, that I started tweaking my computer, upgrading to the latest and greatest, and learning that I need a better mouse and mousepad. The first specialized mousepad I got was a 3M pad that was sleek, thin, and tiny. So tiny and thin, in fact, that it would curl easily. It didn’t last long.
I’m one of those gamers who has the severe stuttering problem with Dark Messiah. It’s been a week and a patch still hasn’t come out. This stuttering situation is the same problem that occurred in Half-Life 2, and was a problem for me in The Ship and the first SiN Episodes game. Other games using the Source engine has given the stuttering problem to other gamers. Which is why I am not confident it will get fixed by Arkane or any other developer who likely realized that sales of their games will be hurt by this stuttering problem inherent with the Source engine powered games.
With a non-existent refund policy on Steam, it’s “shame on me” for purchasing The Ship and SiN Episodes without trying them out. My mistake? Wanting to support the developers. However, when I can’t enjoy those games, it makes it a moot point when supporting the developers, because I had basically donated the money to them, which isn’t what I wanted.
So what is a gamer to do? Piracy is certainly not an option, that’s a road of ingratitude I don’t want to traverse, so I figure I only buy games in which I played the demo and enjoyed it. Then I can dip into my pockets, and fork over my hard-earned money to the developers to support them, and also enjoy their game.
As I’m reading the latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly talking about Gears of War, I saw the words “hardcore gamers” in a sentence. I scoffed at the notion of console gamers as hardcore gamers. There’s nothing hardcore about console games and the gamers that play them, with maybe a very slight exception to fighting games, but I’ll get to that.
You see, there’s a reason there’s a very, very forgiving damage model in most action-packed console games. It’s the limited control scheme that a gamepad gives you. The gamepad are great for platformers like Super Mario 64 and Ratchet & Clank.
Here’s a case in point: My sister’s boyfriend has been playing Call of Duty 2 for months on his Xbox 360 and has beaten it three times. I watched as he took direct hits of 2 grenades and an ungodly amount of bullets, yet he still trekked on, oblivious to all the damage done to his on-screen persona. I was amazed, becaused Call of Duty 2 on my computer was a lot less forgiving (not to mention I play on the hardest difficulty.)