Traditionally console video games, like Xbox or PlayStation, are expected to be played on a TV where multiple people can participate. On the other side you have PC gaming that usually happens on a smaller screen and is suited for one person to play at a time. There is often a sense of discord between console and PC gamers, each one thinking their side the better. The debate over whether the mouse and keyboard combination is better than the controller has gone on for years; however, it seems like the climate is starting to change, and I'm not just talking about global warming. Over the last few years PC gamers and developers have silently adopted the Xbox 360 controller as the go to controller when a mouse and keyboard just won't cut it. In addition to this, the standardization of HDMI inputs in today's TVs and computer video cards has made the idea of using an HDTV as a computer monitor a lot more practical. Now I know what you are thinking, "Why should I care about any of that nerd history?" Well, I'll tell you.
Valve, the go to web based distributor of computer games, has developed software called "Big Picture." Big picture is meant to be used when you hook your computer up to a TV in a living room setting. It allows you to look through the games in your Steam library from your couch and boot up a game, all without a mouse or keyboard. For the very first time, PCs have the ability to function as a traditional console without having to setup a complicated web of software to bring everything together. Big picture gives you access to all the features of an Xbox or PlayStation and even offers more. This is a big deal for gamers, but it's only the beginning. For a while now there have been murmurs of a plan for valve to release their own console and over the last 6 months information has been slowly coming to light.
Valve plans to put out a powerful gaming machine that leaves a small footprint. They call it the Steam Box. Paired with the road that Big Picture is paving Valve wants to usher in the new era of PC gaming by moving the PC from the desk to the living room. In a recent interview with The Verge, Valve's Gabe Newell answers many questions about the steam box and what exactly their goals are. The Steam Box will run on Linux, and it will give you the ability to run Windows as well. The concept is a power gaming PC in a very small package that will be able stream movies, play games and act as a media server.
One of the most interesting things I found in the interview was the idea that Valve wants to use biometrics in the next generation of controllers. Right now it's hard to imagine the thought of a game picking up on the movement of your eyes or the rate at which your heart was pounding, but Gabe Newell seems to believe that this is in the future of gaming.
Another thing that caught my attention was that Gabe Newell said that other companies are making their own versions of the Steam Box. Unlike an Xbox or PlayStation, who solely create their own hardware, Valve has opened the flood gates to enable people to choose what is best for them. The most relevant example of this would be with the android phone market. There are many different companies making these smart phones however they are all running the same OS. There are still many questions about what the steam box will and will not be but one thing is for sure, I can't wait to get my hands on it!