The Zimbabwean Perspective

A look at our lives and the tech we use in them

Editorial Gaming

Perspective Lens: PC gaming in Zimbabwe.

Looks Good? Unfortunately most of us aren’t here yet. Or anywhere close.

 

Welcome to Perspective Lens, another specialized series where we’ll be focusing on how certain technologies specifically affect or are used in Zimbabwe as opposed to other parts of the world. These pieces are meant to help us appreciate not only where such tech comes from and its purpose, but also how we’ve shaped our own lives around that tech or integrated them into our day to day. Hope you enjoy our first piece, especially if you aren’t a gamer.
This is Kenya, it’s gaming scene is a little closer to ours but…not quite the same
 
The PC for me is still to this day the ultimate technological tool. Having grown up a huge PC nerd, I learnt pretty quickly that there’s close to nothing you can’t do on your desktop or laptop, you just have to know how to do it. But as productive as our beloved PCs are there’s also another huge and distinctive use they have been revered for around the world: gaming. And while in Zimbabwe this is no different, allow me to show you how the Zimbabwean version of PC gaming is a very different beast from its international counterparts.
Now if you look at the computer of any male between ages 6 and even their early thirties, chances are high that you may find a game on it (and even higher that that game will be FIFA). In fact, next to smartphones, Windows PCs are likely the largest single gaming platform in the country, more so than any single console. But what PC gaming means here and especially in more developed countries are almost direct opposites. You see, any hardcore gamer outside of Zim will tell you that PC gaming is actually the highest level of gaming around the world, with PC games offering the highest graphics, performance and quality of play compared to their console counterparts. In fact, PC gamers tend to call themselves the “Master Race” deeming their superiority as they get features console gamers go crazy about years later. A simple example would be how by mid 2012 PC games at the highest settings could reach and surpass PS4 and Xbox One graphics, yet that was over a year before the PS4 and Xbox One even launched. The same could be said for features such as 4K gaming and 120+ FPS frame-rates, which the next Xbox and PS5 are boasting to have, yet PC gamers with the best gaming rigs have already been basking in that for about two years now, albeit with only certain games fully supporting those features. This top spec level of gaming also comes with top spec prices however, as a high end PC gamer who wants the latest features nearly always knows they have to pay upwards of a thousand dollars to keep their machine running all the latest games at the highest performance levels. This actually makes gaming consoles, which even now can be bought for around USD $200-250 in most of these developed countries become the much cheaper more accessible option for gaming that even casual gamers can jump into.
The Typical Modern Gaming Machine
Now if you’re a PC gamer in Zim and you’ve just read all that, chances are you’re in shock because that is nowhere near the PC gaming scene back here. Now don’t get us wrong, we do know that there are those among us fortunate enough to actually own a RAZER or Alienware gaming PC and buy new graphics cards to build a new desktop rig, but we also know they’re a very small group. This is because in Zim, the meaning of PC gaming is probably the total opposite of it’s developed country meaning. While there PC gamers carry USD $800 upwards gaming PCs that meet all the latest standards, here the average PC gamer is running a 3 years+  old machine that might have been bought second hand with a set of either the games closest to that person, or the games the PC can actually run (or FIFA, we can’t downplay the significance of FIFA here).
The Typical Zim Gaming Machine
PC gaming in Zim is characterized by 2 main things: price and accessibility. Here, consoles are basically the more hard core expensive gaming option, while  PCs are the cheaper option that more people can get their hands on and has less hassles to get into. This is due to three main things:
Low Settings: The Saving Grace of Many a PC gamer
  1. Flexibility: The upper echelon of PC gaming truly is the type of hardware and games that puts even the best consoles to shame, but thankfully, PC games have always been made with a list flexible gaming requirements in mind and the minimum requirements can be matched by a lot of people’s older PCs , hence they just turn PC game settings down to low and get to playing even on their much older machines.
    Remember this bad boy? You basically can’t get it on PS4 or XBox One. On PC it’s literally one of the most common games to find.
  2. The games library: Being a console gamer as well, I can easily tell you that one of the worst parts about a games console is having to let go of some of your favorite games once the console upgrade comes along. Backwards compatibility has always been a huge issue with consoles: PS2 games can’t run on a PS3 ,Xbox games can’t run on a 360, and it’s only recently that both Microsoft and Sony have started addressing this with backward compatibility programs and the next Xbox and PlayStation being able to run current generation games. But you know what’s never required anything like that? The PC! You can literally run games from the 80’s on your PC (albeit with some mild tweaking sometimes), making the PC gaming library the single biggest selection of games to choose from. I personally have the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance game from 2006 as until recently it was the only thing that felt like a true Avengers video game. Others run games as old as Need for Speed Underground, or the original Star Wars: Battlefront 2. And all this adds to just how much you can do when it comes to PC gaming. Kind of leaves you feeling disappointed when you realize some people just play FIFA and nothing else.
    We swear, we’re not advertising piracy here.
  3. Piracy: This one’s not exactly something to smile upon but to say software piracy is common in Zimbabwe would be an understatement, and piracy of PC games is even more common. This is what makes PC gaming virtually the cheapest gaming platform around. Because while a gaming console requires the $200+ to buy it, and $30 t0 $100 to buy a new game locally, most PC gamers just find a pirated copy of whatever game they want and virtually keep playing every game they want for free. Again, it’s nothing to be proud about, and it’s usually not the full gaming experience either (pirated or “cracked” games usually lack elements like game updates and multiplayer) but it is the way that PC gaming has worked for years in Zim, and it’s only added to the platforms popularity.
So the differences are clear , and PC gaming definitely means a whole different experience in Zim than it does in other countries. But does that means that the spirit behind PC gaming is different? Well if you’re someone who believes that spirit is high end specs, groundbreaking graphics and tons of LED lights, then yes, the spirit of PC gaming in Zimbabwe is different from the rest of the world. But I would argue that’s like saying the spirit of console gaming is in choosing a platform between PlayStation and Xbox and arguing over who had the better exclusive games each year. The spirit of PC gaming, in fact the spirit of gaming in general is the love for games. That ability to check out trailers about them or argue which game is better or spend a whole day with your friends locked in a tournament that you know won’t really end. All of that is the spirit of gaming, and if there’s one thing PC gamers in Zim have that they share with the rest of the world, it’s that. After all it takes a lot of commitment to run a game on low settings that you had to turn of your antivirus to install and can’t even play the multiplayer component of. And that alone makes Zim PC gamers just as committed as their international counterparts. Hopefully when day we can have the more glamorous and ideal PC gaming experience, and share with the world our own PC gaming stories as well. But until then, may we all keep enjoying all the amazing experiences PC gaming has to offer our way, and never grow tired of it.
Are you a PC gamer? Tell us what you love about it or gaming in general. Check out more articles below.

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