A beginner’s guide to PC Gaming in 2021

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So your son or daughter has asked for a gaming PC to play with their friends? The ParentsGuideToGaming aims to simplify the process for busy parents. Gone are the days of buying a console, inserting a disk or downloading the game from the store and simply playing. There is no doubt about it, PC gaming is more complicated than it’s console alternatives but is also more rewarding. The ability to be able to customise and upgrade the PC over time is something that is fun, rewarding and provides versatility.

What kind of games does your child want to play?

There are numerous types of games ranging from games created 30+ years ago to the very latest AAA releases. The type of game your child wants to play could have a big impact on the type of gaming PC that will be required to play them. For example, the older games (emulators) will require lower power components to play whereas the latest AAA releases could require the latest costly hardware to run them.

Choices include online games or offline, adventure or strategy, simulators or role playing!

Where do you buy PC Games?

Buying a game from the shop is very rare for a PC nowadays, many people do not have a disk drive and games are typically delivered via a software client. This keeps all of your PC games in a library and once you buy the game it’s there forever. Installing many games can cause issues with hard drive space so you can decide if you want to uninstall a game and replace it with another from your library, typically your progress is saved in the cloud so when you return to the game you can carry on where you left off.

The software clients also keep your games up to date. Perhaps someone has discovered a game breaking bug. The publisher can then patch this via the software client so you are always running the latest version, ensuring you have the best experience possible. It’s also not uncommon for new content to be released in the form of DLC (downloadable content). Sometimes this is free but more commonly it’s paid for content that expands the game via new content to play or by customisations such as new skins (appearance of items) or content to help you progress through the game.

Some of the common software clients include:

Steam
Origin
Battle.net (Blizzard)
Epic Games Store

Where you buy the game from is typically determined by what game your child wishes to play although Steam is very popular and covers many different publishers.

The steam store front page

What are system requirements?

This is a very important consideration when PC gaming to ensure that your child’s experience of PC gaming is a good one. Clearly not everyone can afford or keep up with the latest hardware. A top end graphics card might cost you as much as a car so it’s unrealistic for many of us to be able to provide our children with such hardware. The system requirements state the minimum and recommend hardware required to play the game.

Minimum: The absolute minimum hardware specification to run the game. Note that the experience may not be what you expected, you may face long loading times and dropping frame rates. Generally, the higher the frame rate (fps) the smoother the game is. There is no doubt that depending on the game it could be an infuriating experience.

Recommended: The experience will start to improve if you can meet these hardware specifications. You’ll be unlikely to play at high resolution such as 1440p or 4k at high or ultra quality but a sensible approach to the graphical settings should generate good results.

The system requirements for Cyberpunk 2077

If you are constrained by older hardware then taking a look at the system requirements will be a good start allowing you to choose a game which will be suitable. Don’t forget that some of the older games required modern hardware at the time but will work great on older hardware. There are some classics to play and plenty of games to play through.

A good website to check if your PC will play various games is https://www.systemrequirementslab.com/cyri

How much do PC games cost?

Games can vary depending on their age and popularity but there is a range for everyone. The very latest AAA releases may cost upwards of £40-£50 for the standard version increasing to over £60-70 for versions including more content. Many games drop in price after they have been released for some times so it’s possible to pick up some bargains within the £10-£20 range if you are happy to wait some time. Old classic games can also be found for <£10 depending on the age which will provide hours of entertainment.