Gaming used to be the realm of men aged between 18 and 30. If you watched a TV ad for any of the game consoles released in the 1980s and 1990s, you could see clearly the demographic that the gaming brands were targeting.
Since the 2000s things have changed, and game developers and hardware manufacturers have realised that it’s good business to serve a much broader demographic. That’s why today, almost everyone is playing games of some sort. In fact, recent research has found that almost half of all over 60-year-olds play at least one game each day.
Women have also been closing the gender gap in gaming. Back in 2006, only 38% of US gamers were female, while this had become 46% by 2019%.
Part of the reason why so many more people are playing video games is that they’ve become more accessible through devices like smartphones and tablets. With everyone having their own device, gamers aren’t required to hog the TV in the living room or lock themselves away in another room. Instead, they can be watching TV in the same room with loved ones, commuting on the train, or relaxing at the beach while enjoying their favourite titles.
But are these mobile devices the best device for gaming, or is there a better option? Let’s take a look.
Computers were the original device for gaming at home, with players in the 1980s loading their 8 and 16-bit titles on their machines through tape cassettes and large floppy discs.
Things have moved on a lot since then though, with games that are millions (yes, millions) of times larger than titles released for machines like the ZX Spectrum. Some of the games released today have graphics so realistic that could be confused with video recorded in the real world.
Although the technology isn’t exclusive to computers, virtual reality tends to work best when playing games through a PC. This is because a good VR gaming experience requires powerful hardware. For example, PokerStars VR, a free-to-play virtual reality poker game requires an NVIDIA GTX 970 graphics card or higher to work.
Computer gamers also have access to a broad back catalogue of older games, with tools like DOSBox able to make them run on modern hardware.
Smartphone games have evolved a lot since the first iPhone was released in 2007. Before then, mobile games were small, primitive, and were difficult to control through the physical keypad found on most handsets at the time.
By the 2010s, games like Angry Birds made mobile gaming appeal to everyone, and today, console-quality titles like Fortnite and Minecraft can be played on these pocket-sized computers.
In addition to the convenience offered by smartphones, mobile gamers have access to one of the broadest libraries of titles of any platform. Both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store have almost one million different games to choose from and many more games can be played through a web browser like Chrome or Safari.
Even AAA titles that were once the exclusive domain of high-powered PCs and consoles can now be played on smartphones using services like Google Stadia.
VR headsets can also be used for smartphone gaming, though the experience isn’t necessarily as good as with a PC.
Consoles are the gaming machines that attract the most attention from the media and the public. The launch of new generations of hardware usually becomes major headlines around the world, and the latest PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X were no exception.
Gamers who prefer consoles love the convenience that they offer. There’s no complicated hardware to set up, you just plug in the power, connect a TV, and switch it on. There’s also no need to worry about upgrading components like a PC gamer does, games released for a particular machine will run on it regardless of whether it was one of the first units to be produced or one of the last.
Consoles are also cheaper than PCs, costing hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars less.
Your choice of titles is usually more limited than the other formats though, as console manufacturers restrict what can be published on their hardware.
So the best device for gaming in 2021 will depend on what you’re looking for from your game-playing experience. If you want portability, a smartphone is definitely the way to go. If you want to play AAA titles but without any hassle, then a console is probably the right choice. But if you’d like more choice for titles, then PC gaming may be the best option for you.