Features By Michael Blackburn / April 20, 2017 Muses On My Near Future Gaming Platform It was the perfect setup, my wife was leaving on a trip for a couple of days, leaving me home with Mass Effect: Andromeda. Well, that was the plan and it lasted for a whole 20 minutes after she had left. Then, my two-year-old ate a box of crayons and my four-year-old decided to help himself to the grape juice (I think 90% of the bottle ended up on the counter and floor but he did enjoy the other 10% that made it into his cup). Needless to say, it was a complete debacle. I got zero time in on Andromeda. I have four kids that I absolutely love and because of my work I am often away. So, it wasn’t a sacrifice to spend my time with them over Andromeda. However, it got me thinking about my gaming habits past, present and future and what my options will be when it comes to near future gaming platforms. In the past, I was committed to console gaming, on everything from the Atari to Xbox. I would play games on PC, but for the most part I was devouring JRPGs on consoles. Then, I hit a PC gaming phase with the advent of MMOs and amazing Half Life mods (Firearms was an amazing mod and a great LAN party game). I missed the whole Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 hype due to PC gaming. One of the great constants though is change. I found a wonderful woman and got married. With marriage, my gaming time started to shrink. Graduation and then work, followed by the advent of children, whittled down any free time that I had to just a few hours a week. To highlight this fact – I got Andromeda the first week it came out and I’ve just barely left the first planet. I don’t bemoan the fact that I can’t play as much as I did, as this is a good thing. However, it has forced me to be smarter in managing my gaming time. The M14 with Scope from the Half Life ‘Firearms’ mod. Currently, the most economical use of my gaming time is by playing on my phone and on occasional the tablet. So, last week I got my gaming fix, mostly, by playing Gumballs & Dungeons (G&D) (check out my review for more info on this grind-fest dungeon crawler) and Warhammer 40K: Deathwatch. I’d play through a maze on G&D when I had a spare moment, whereas Deathwatch was my nightcap (played on my aging tablet.) Deathwatch takes two things I love (40K and turn-based strategies) and puts them in one enjoyable whole. Currently, it’s only available on iOS, which is a shame for the Android crowd. If you ever played Ultramarines on the Playstation Portable, then you have an idea how the game plays. [appbox appstore 791134629] Mobile gaming has come a long way in a short time and it’s increasingly been scratching my gaming itch. There are still some limitations when it comes to mobile gaming, but those limitations are reducing each year. Streaming technology has come a long way and will continue to improve, enabling console and PC AAA games to be played on mobile devices. Nintendo, a big driver of innovation in video games, has even made their newest console mobile-capable. So, mobile gaming will continue to improve – and we’re not too far off seeing most AAA games available, in some form, on a mobile platform. As I look at my future gaming habits I find it harder to imagine owning a console or even a gaming PC. I’ve been tempted by new releases on the upcoming Xbox Scorpio and my brother showing off his Nintendo Switch. However, it’s the new Apple iPad that I am actually looking at putting money down for. Why, you might ask? Well, it comes down to a matter of utility and value. Project Scorpio promises 6 Teraflops of graphical processing power, true 4K gaming, and compatibility with Xbox One games and accessories. Apple’s new iPad with 128GB is about $430 USD, the Nintendo Switch with 32GB is $390 and the Xbox Scorpio’s price point is still unknown. I can use the Nintendo Switch for mobile gaming but its battery life is an issue for gaming on the go for any extended time. The Scorpio is completely non-mobile and I haven’t heard of any streaming feature other than Beam (which is more of an interactive Twitch than game streaming service). The iPad can be used for a host of utilitarian purposes but also as a rather great gaming platform. So, that is where I plan to spend my money. Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are on your own near future gaming platforms.