consolitis - A relatively new term spoken explosively by disappointed PC gamers to describe the phenomenon that occurs when a game, obviously designed with the limitations of video game consoles in mind (Playstation 2, XBox, Gamecube), is thought to be clumsily or thoughtlessly ported to PC format.

Console games are (obviously) intended for consoles, devices with simplistic controllers, considerably less powerful and advanced hardware, low resolution video, and limited customizability. Compared with PC gamers, the console audience tends to be younger, less willing to deal with complicated games, have a shorter attention span, and less cash for powerful hardware. The development of console video games tends to reflect this.

PC gamers, particularly the hardcore minority, often own more impressive machines, continually customizing and upgrading them. As enthusiasts, with both time and money invested in building, playing, and creating elaborate "mods" for games, PC gamers see themselves as being increasingly ignored by game developers. They are also, unfortunately for them, in the minority.

Cries of "consolitis!" tend to come up when a game is being developed across gaming platforms that appears to be taking on common, despised aspects of console games. These characteristics are usually gleaned from sources such as screenshots or video of gameplay while the game is still in development. Such maligned charactersistics include:

  • Poor visual quality, while not apparent in the lower resolution of consoles, becomes very apparent on the PC screen.
  • Poor control, designed for the simple controllers that come with consoles, port clumsily to the standard keyboard-and-mouse combination.
  • Oversized visual elements (such as HUD displays), obviously designed for low-resolution TV screens.
  • Oversimplification of game elements (ie, one type of ammunition as fuel for any gun, from pistol to rocket launcher).
  • Limited ability to save games (save points, or password systems).
  • Various game elements designed to appeal to the console audience (3rd person views, lots of shooting, whiz-bang menu systems, excessive female flesh).
  • Reliance on full-motion-video, in deference to consoles' inability to easily render cinematic scenes.
  • Terrible performance or outright incompatibility with PC hardware, due to an ineffecient or careless porting process.
  • Lack of support for freelance game development, witholding game editors, destroying any chance at mod creation.
  • PC gamers are particularly annoyed or dismayed if the game in question is a sequal to one much loved on the PC format. Such series include: Deus Ex, Fallout, and Thief.

    Oddly enough, yet perhaps appropriate, "consolitis" seems to hint at an aversion to characteristics of consoles, rather than being a symptom particular to the game itself. In other words, the game doesn't have "consolitis," the gamer does.

    My personal take: It used to be kinda about the love of the game, you know? Sure, gaming is a business, but now, its only about the money, and consoles are where the money is. Make a game, blatz it on as many platforms as you can, move on to the next thing. These are the results of a publisher-driven, instead of developer-driven, industry. The minority market is just going to get snubbed sometimes. Take heart, though. There are many great games out there, not to mention a big yellow ball in the sky and trees outside to frolic around.

    It should be noted that in spite of the consolitis phenomenon, there actually have been notable ports to the PC. I'll leave it to anyone else who wishes to create a list of successful/failed games in that vein.

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