The lights are on
On Monday, Valve announced that it is developing SteamOS, an operating system designed specifically with gaming in mind. It was the first of three announcements coming from the company this week, and some are speculating that news on the Steam Box – a nickname for Valve’s long-rumored gaming PC – is coming soon. If anyone is actually waiting for such a device, great. But they should know that the living-room solution for PC gaming has existed for years now.
Are you interested in playing PC games on your television, from the comfort of your couch? Do you already have a relatively modern computer? Here’s a two-step solution:
1: Buy an HDMI cable
2: Plug it into your television
I’m being facetious here, but I stand by the fundamental point. I understand that moving an existing PC isn’t always an option. You’re not going to want to edit text documents or do most work-related tasks on a TV display, for instance. Or maybe your water-cooled monster clashes with the rest of your décor (or so says your significant other). But anyone who pretends that PC gaming in the living room is next to impossible without a dedicated console is fooling themselves.
If you feel as though you are missing out on a ton of great games by not having a gaming PC (and you are), it’s easily remedied. Just about any contemporary machine that’s capable of playing games will have an HDMI output. Use it. Adjust your video card to your TV’s resolution, and you’re set. Steam's Big Picture Mode makes things even easier, scaling the service's UI to make it more legible on TVs. Living-room gaming won’t solve everything; you might find that games that require mouse and keyboard inputs are unwieldy. That would be an issue regardless of the PC form factor, however.
Could a dedicated Steam Box be a good thing? Of course. Having a standard setup would not only keep prices down, but it would also provide a hardware benchmark for developers to aim for. It could admittedly be easier for novices to set up, too, but PCs aren’t scary alien artifacts – if you can build a Lego set, you can put the parts together and be up in running in an hour or two. In the meantime, however, I feel bad for anyone who’s sitting in the sidelines waiting for a living-room solution when it’s already here.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I do this all the time. Me and my brother have had some great times running a split screen mod for left 4 dead 1 and 2. I got them both for 5 dollars on steam when they're 20$ on console. PC gaming in the living room is a reality if you're willing to try at it.
All viable opinions Cork. I guess the SteamBox could be a viable option for gamers or families who either don't own a gaming PC yet or want a cheaper option that everyone can use.
If there actually is a "Steam Box" it's going to be a console not a PC so it kind of defeats/obscures what I think they mean to do. If there is no Steam Box (as I kind of expect there won't be) and it's just an OS to run games on, then this is going to fail very hard.
I've been using that two-step method for several years now and will never go back to using an actual monitor. My 60" HDTV I can use while relaxing in my recliner is a much better option.
I have a steam box right now! Kind of. I use a TV as my monitor, but it's not in a living room setting.
I'm going to stop here for a second and contemplate the person who takes an hour or two to connect their PC to their TV.
Also, most modern HDTV's (in my experience) accept a VGA or even DVI input
FINALLY, someone brings this to light. its insane how many ppl don't think of this.
MANY times do people come to my place and go "whats that", i repky "my pc", and they go "oh... its hooked up to your tv. i should do that!"
I'm more interested in the SteamOS than the hardware underneath.
Exactly where I sit. The streaming just sort of seems like a compensator more than anything else.
I am actually really jacked for this. I am not a PC gamer and I mostly use my computer to type stuff up and watch film for football and basketball. So with that in mind being able to hook the box up to a TV maybe more of the games would be play able with a controller for those of us who arent used to using a keyboard.
don't even need an HDMI cork ;) if you have a slightly older tv like me ( 07-08ish i got it) you can use the usual VGA cable (normally the 1 you use for a monitor) and a audio wire and your set , which least your HDMI free for modern consoles and their exclusives you can't play on pc ;)