I have been cast out.
Shunned and alienated by my band of brothers.
Discarded beneath the long shadows of frown laden faces.
Forgotten by those whom had stood shoulder to shoulder with me as the enemy came upon us.
We lived together, we died together, we respawned together. We savoured the highs and cursed the lows, we mocked the laggers and threw ire upon those who dared suggest we lagged too.
They were great times.
Long winter nights getting pissed on cider with a stronger percentage than our ever falling kill/death ratios, hot summer nights before the screen as the waft of next doors barbecue and the laughter of chattermongers danced through the air distracting us but giving excuse for another poor performance upon the digital battlefield.
The good, the rad and the gnarly of an online universe swam before my wide eyed enthusiasm and I basked within the warm glow of friends I’d never meet.
But the sun has now set.
I have been labelled traitor.
I have bought myself a PlayStation 4.
Holy shit! Please forgive me that long overblown intro. I haven’t really spouted off on video games for a while and just had to get it out. That feels like a weight has been lifted. Now, back to me being a dirty lowdown traitorous scumbag to my former Xbox brotherhood.
If I’m to be completely honest, this new turncoat persona I’ve adopted with consummate ease caught me equally by surprise.
You see, for the past decade and a bit I’ve basically been “Mr Xbox”.
Beneath the gentle rise and fall of my Goonies t-shirt beat the heart of a diehard Xbox fanatic.
I was in love, and even when this true love journey hit rocky roads, like when my console travelled abroad for its annual constitutional on the back of the infamous 3-red-lights (it spent so much time on the workbenches of Germany I half expected to receive a postcard of it stood half pissed with tankard in hand at Oktoberfest), my devotion never wavered.
I truly believed that as the old, reasonably faithful, Xbox 360 began its farewell journey into the green glow of the gaming sunset the only destination for me was Xbox One.
Then Microsoft introduced its new born to the world.
I remember being sat perched upon the edge of the settee, enjoying the flutter of excited butterflies within my gut (although that could have been the rumble of the bacon and banana sandwich I’d recently devoured), my metaphysical arms open in a ready embrace for the next stage in my Xbox love affair.
For the next hour or so I sat and watched the walls of my Xbox stronghold crumble like a sandcastle at high tide. I may or may not have uttered the following, “that’s bullshit”, “are they taking the piss?” “why do I want to talk to my Xbox, that bastard didn’t even send me a postcard from Germany!” “Skype while I’m playing! I don’t even acknowledge my wife while I’m playing!” and “when does the Sony announcement start?”
In the shortest of times my decade and a bit Xbox love affair was over.
It had been crippled by, as I saw it, the continued greed of Microsoft. The sharing games issue, the daily internet connection issue, the Kinect always on issue, the Kinect not being optional issue, (as someone who queued at midnight for the first Kinect and has regretted it ever since, why no Kinect free option!) the “you can jump from your game to TV and then a movie and why not Skype before going back to your game” issue, and, the price tag issue.
The sharing games thing was the biggie for me, that was the point they lost me, the point I joined the ‘Dark Side’ as I’d previously known it. Even though they did a hasty u-turn, for me it was too late. The idea had been there and if there had been no Sony in the blue corner then gaming as we know it this gen would have a very different face.
Of course there’ll be some who say “You didn’t understand the long term vision Microsoft had.” Well, whose fault is that? I watched the presentation and drew the same conclusions as many others, the one where my money was in much safer hands spent on Sony’s PS4.
The console for the serious gamer, a gamer much like myself. Fair play I may be a talentless, frequently dying, leaderboard propping, mildly angry unless I’m very angry, zero headshotting, medic’s dream of a gamer, but I am serious about my hobby, I’m just also seriously poor at it. (As a side point while I’m here, a few more games wouldn’t go amiss for us gamers eh Sony?).
From the moment I made the decision to jump ship I also gave my time to the previously overlooked PS3 that had sat dusty and forlorn beneath the TV for far too long.
And now, it feels like the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of my gaming future. I’ve not completely shunned my former Xbox life, I still keep an eye out for the latest news of what it’s been up to, listen out for titbits on the latest games its flaunting, who knows, I may one day even let it back into my life, but right now I do all this from within the glorious glow of my PS4.
I have been cast out.
But somehow, as I delight in the slick dashboard and enjoy being continually amazed by the PS Plus generosity, as the eye melting visuals dance across the screen and I share my gameplay exploits with the world, it doesn’t feel a bad place to be.