PC gaming has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, despite some predictions that the computer would fall out of favour among gamers. While demand for gaming machines was static in the late 2000s, it gradually grew through the 2010s and has exploded since 2020.
Back in 2009, there were approximately 1.1 billion PC gamers in the world. That rose to 1.5 billion by 2019, 1.77 billion in 2020, 1.8 billion in 2022, and has been predicted to top 1.9 billion by 2024.
This boost has been helped, in part, by Microsoft’s integration of the Xbox ecosystem into Windows 10 and Windows 11. The two have only become more intertwined as time has gone on, with players who subscribe to the company’s Xbox Game Pass service getting access to a large library of console games that can be run on their computer.
There has also been a repositioning and a reshaping of the culture around computer gaming. It has gone from being seen as a somewhat nerdy activity that involved painstakingly building a computer to play games on, to a mainstream pastime where an average player can simply purchase a machine off the shelf and start enjoying great titles.
You don’t even need to buy a new computer. Many existing computers can handle a large number of games, including modern releases and ones with multiplayer functionality.
So, how can you use your Windows 10 or Windows 11 computer as a gaming machine? Here’s how.
Consider the Types of Games You Want to Play
Unlike console or mobile gaming, playing on your computer requires a little more thought and consideration. Not all titles can run on all machines as hardware compatibility will prevent older machines from running some newer releases.
This doesn’t mean your three-year-old Windows 10 computer is useless, it just means you might need to think about what types of games you want to play and plan accordingly. You’ll probably be surprised just how many great titles you can run on older hardware.
For example, if you’re someone who loves playing card games with your friends, then even a dusty old box is probably going to work. This is because poker software, such as the application distributed by PokerStars, can run on a Windows Vista machine with just a Pentium 4 processor and 2GB of RAM – though, of course, the company does recommend faster hardware.
With that, you can run all of the game’s features, including the recent addition of Home Games, a tool that lets you play online poker with friends in a private club that you set up and manage through the software.
However, the same can’t be said for Grand Theft Auto V. As a minimum, you’ll need a quad-core processor, 4GB of memory, and a powerful graphics card. Having more power would also yield faster loading, smoother frame-rates, and better-looking graphics.
Once you’ve decided what types of games you want to play, you can then look at making any upgrades to your computer to meet the system requirements.
Choose the Right Peripherals
Any mouse and keyboard can be used for gaming, but if you want to get the best experience, you’re going to need some input devices that are designed for extended playing sessions.
Thankfully, the market has been flooded with ergonomic mice and keyboards that can relieve pressure from your fingers and wrists while you play. Many also include hotkeys that can be used to programme game-specific actions, like performing a melee attack on an enemy in shooting games like Call of Duty.
Most are plug-and-play, so there’s no complicated faffing about with drivers. Just pull it out of the box, shove it into the USB port, and you’re ready to go.
Choose a Launcher
Games are distributed differently from just a decade ago. Instead of buying physical discs that come with the files on, you download them from a digital catalogue.
This usually involves downloading the catalogue’s software (often called “launchers”) to your computer, creating an account, and then purchasing the games you want.
You can, of course, install multiple launchers on your computer. But it might make more sense to start out with one, as many titles can be found across quite a few platforms. Some of the best ones include Steam, the Epic Games Store, and the Rockstar Games Launcher.