Monday, September 19, 2011

Why I bought an Xbox.

Screw you Water Temple.
I've only ever owned two console game systems in my entire life. My parents got my brother, sister, and I a Nintendo 64 right after Zelda: Ocarina of Time (the best game ever made) came out, in 1999 if my memory serves me right. I remember watching my older brother and his best friend Mark play that game for hours. The wolves at the entrance to the Forest Temple still frighten me to this today.

When I got a little older, around Jr. High age, I remember my class held a garage sale. As I was helping put out the boxes of assorted clothes and other paraphernalia that you find at such sales, I spotted an atypical gem in the mess: a Playstation. Now mind you, this was when the Playstation 2 was in its hayday (there's a DVD player built in?!) Still, the mere thought of owning a system that played its games from CDs as opposed to cartridges made me splurge the 20 or so dollars that it cost.

Today I bought my third game system that I've ever owned: an Xbox 360.

If you know me, you know I'm kind of a gadget geek. Ever since I figured out how to check my email using my dad's sprint flip phone on a road trip to California I've enjoyed figuring out how to allow gadgets to make my life easier.

That being said, I've been called an Apple fanboy by more than one innocent bystander. Allow me to lay those accusations at rest: I don't buy Apple products because they are made by Apple. I buy Apple products because they are the best gadgets on the market.

So why would I spend $300 on the 4GB Xbox 360 Kinect package? Aren't Apple and Microsoft sworn enemies? Maybe once, not so long ago. But today?

Take a look at where Microsoft has come from. The Windows that we knew and loved last decade is evolving into something no one anticipated. And, with Microsoft unveiling Windows 8 recently, it's become clear that they are headed into the next era with all haste.

Exhibit 3: an ecosystem.
My love for any given piece of technology goes only as far as the ecosystem that the given technology communicates with. With Apple I can seamlessly sync things between my iPad, laptop, and iPhone using one or more apps. With Amazon I can buy a book on my Kindle and have the ability to read it on any of my devices. With Dropbox I can share my documents with others and access them from anywhere. A gadget or service is only as good as what it's connected with.

Windows Phone 7 took the tech industry by storm. I remember listening to the Engadget podcast when the change in the Windows mobile platform was announced. Nobody believed that "Old Faithful" was capable of altering its DNA and evolving. What would the new UI look like? What did this mean for Windows? As the first phone models were released many of these questions were answered, while some only festered and produced more questions. The unveiling of Windows 8 brought many answers: Microsoft is in it for the long haul.

And through all of this, the Xbox stood as (arguably) king of the gaming industry. Kinect only added to that perception with its seamless integration and fun-factor. Now, with all of these announcements that Microsoft is making regarding their next version of Windows, it is clear to me that they are tying everything together. They are making an ecosystem that is worth being a part of. They are making an ecosystem that I want to be a part of.

Go big or go home, that's what I always say. I had no intention of returning to my place of residence today, so I walked out of the West Point bookstore carrying a tried-and-true gaming system.

As I stood looking at the box that held my new Xbox 360 today, I couldn't help but wonder if this was the first step in my becoming a Windows fanboy. I'll have to make a note of that on my iPad.


Do you have a gaming system that you prefer? What ecosystems are you invested in?