No matter how consoles have evolved, every one of them today still has two things in common with every one of them going back to the Atari VCS: They still need power, and they still need to get a signal to the TV. Though gamepads and headsets and Internet connections have all gone wireless, these two essential functions of a console still require cables, and probably always will.
It makes for the ugliest feature, by far, of video gaming—the entertainment center: A seething kudzu bottom of plastic and veneered particle board that, I swear, actively entangles itself. Even with just an Xbox 360 left plugged in as I write this, plus a cable box, modem and wireless router, the back of my soon-to-be-junked entertainment center still looks like C-3PO's pubic hair.
Now imagine adding in a PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii (don't forget the sensor bar), original Xbox, Kinect, PlayStation Eye, HD-PVR for video capturing, four-way signal switcher, and a transmitter for my—final irony—wireless headphones.
I realize I'm an extreme case and that preceding paragraph may be seen as a passive-aggressive way of bragging about my setup. (Which, full disclosure, I fucking paid for out of my own pocket. You guys think we get all this shit for free. That's the games we get for review. Hardware, nope. Or at least, I didn't.) However awesome it sounds to have that much interactive entertainment shoehorned into roughly 15 square feet, let me assure you it is a pure bitch when it's time to pack up and move.
The last time I ranted about hardware features, the solution was simple: Don't fucking put capacitive eject buttons on a console. Here, there seems to be no way out for the foreseeable future. We're coming to a new console generation in which digital distribution will likely inform the conveniences (and drawbacks) of whatever entertainment it serves. Maybe some day devices will reliably transmit high-definition signals to televisions enabled to receive them, and all of that will be affordable. But unless someone starts selling an entertainment center that functions like a giant powermat, and these devices are outfitted to be charged up that way, I don't see the need for video and power cables changing until
I'm eligible for Social Security goes bust.
What's hilarious to me is that all these stupid stock photos of attractive young professionals playing their "Call of Duty" on their "Wii" in their loft apartments already depict such an utterly utopian future. Cables in any kind of console marketing, especially if it involves Kinect, are like pubic hair in Japanese Playboy: Painstakingly and concealed by law, even if it requires uncomfortable posing or airbrushing. I realize that's two pubic hair references in the same post. You'll live.
The idea of owning this nice pine cabinet, which I think was owned by my great-grandfather who was related to Martha Washington, Pocahontas and Robocop, scares the crap out of me. Mom's given me permission to do whatever I need to it, up to and including that frightening toothed cone that cores out a huge circle. I really can't see this ending in anything other than splinters and transgenerational disappointment.
So it's at this point where PC gamers are probably laughing themselves hoarse, and yes, that probably the most optimal setup. I'm a Mac user, however. And my new desk is the rolltop from my father's office when he was a newspaper publisher. It's a tremendous honor that I'll soon be writing for Kotaku from that. We'll set that up in my office in my home sometime next week. I'll put my computer where his old Royal typewriter was.
Then I'll drill a hole through the back, and plug in.
Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam on Fridays. Let yours out in the comments.