So, lately I’ve seen a lot of intense, partisan and finicky arguments around the Xbox one and its relative merits against the PS4, PC and Wii U (mostly against the PS4). But for me, as a new father who in turn has a good relationship with my own father, the whole thing is a non-issue. There’s only one clear cut winner here, and I want to walk the rest of you down this road with me.
I have a kid
I actually have 2 kids, but one of them is young enough to not count for the purposes of this discussion. He isn’t going to be playing games any time soon, that’s for sure! But my older son is now just about 2 and a half (29 months for those of you who count kids’ ages that way) and he’s happily diving into games like Toca Builders for the iPad and trying to play Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja as well, with varying degrees of success.
With tablets or PC, my wife an I are losing him to an “electronic babysitter” or are ourselves being lost (parents need some downtime too, you know!) in our small screens. But with a console, gaming becomes bonding time. You’re doing co-op in front of a big screen, and gaming becomes an event you can share, not a solitary escape. And I love my son to death, so anything I can do to spend time with him is awesome. So, when considering a gaming service that takes my son into account, I naturally gravitate towards consoles. And as the console that (both) doesn’t require a controller, and is one of the 2 consoles that has decent party and fitness titles, the Xbox One with Kinect is the clearly superior choice for my kid.
I mean come on. A way I can play with my son, keep him moving, and not have either him or myself off in our own little world while consuming entertainment? The Xbox One is the simplest and arguably one of the most robust choices to fill all those requirements.
The other “no brainer” about the Xbox One for me is Skype. My parents live roughly 100 miles away, and are both still working and have active lives. My wife and I have 2 kids now, and taking trips can be something of a hassle. Needless to say, it’s the rare occasion that schedules sync up to the point where we can see each other. Thus, the 1080p wide-angle camera provided by the Xbox One is a handy plus to let my parents see my kids. To add to this, my dad and I occasionally game together, so Skype snapping is another plus.
Sure, my dad and I currently play using Steam chat on computer, and this solution works fine for us. Shoot, we’ll probably continue to do so in the future. But the flexibility to duplicate this on the console, with the added bonus of using the biggest screen in our house to communicate, is another plus in the camp of the Xbox One.
I will note that in this case, the PC is an acceptable solution as well, despite the limitations of the fairly small and underpowered webcams we currently use to communicate. And I’m sure other consoles have some version of this, as well.
Seriously, I’d pay $500 just for the ability to turn on an entertainment device with my voice, The Kinect voice controls (and SmartGlass) might not mean much to some people, but on my current Xbox 360, I only touch a traditional controller when I absolutely have to. I use voice controls to navigate around the device, or Smartglass to jump straight to the app I want to use at the time. The Xbox One promises to make this much more convenient, with voice commands to jump from activity to activity without the necessity of returning to the Start Screen. I find this to be efficient and powerful, and certainly hope that it will deliver the same convenience that videos suggest it will.
I am a gamer
Well, “am” is stretching it. I think I’ve personally played about… 10 hours of games in the past month. But still, I enjoy kicking back and playing games when I can find some spare time. Now, I typically do enjoy wargames or tactical games like Wargame, AirLand Battle or Company of Heroes 2, which are in short supply on consoles, but I also loved the story in BioShock Infinite, and my wife happily watched me fumble my way through the Batman games. So while I might be inclined to say “PC Master Race, the end!” and carry on my happy way of downloading Steam games and trying to finagle a couple minutes to get in a Company of Heroes 2 multiplayer match, that doesn’t really fit into the bigger picture of my family.
I play multiplayer games by myself. I play co-op games with my wife. I (very occasionally) have people over and want to play some party games with them. I consume content from a variety of entertainment sources. I want to have voice chats with my parents, and play games side by side with my son. For me, the Xbox One is a single touchpoint for all of these things where the PC, PS4 or Wii U would require compromise or offer a partial solution.