Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Laptop for a Casual Gamer

Mushrooms and Moons in Outland
I don't usually talk about why I am a casual MMO player, but I will today.  As mentioned before, I have been playing World of Warcraft off and on since it started and was casually raiding during the original game and the Burning Crusade expansion.  My first daughter was born approximately two years before the WoW was released and she was diagnosed with PDD/NOS when she was three and that diagnosis progressed to Autism.

Different children with autism have different needs, but mine requires pretty constant supervision.   She often doesn't look like she is paying attention, but she immediately notices if she isn't being watched and will usually get into something she shouldn't if she isn't supervised.  It isn't malicious, she is just compelled to get into things and, though she generally wants to obey us, without immediate supervision, she does what she wants and that usually leads to getting into food she shouldn't (such as candy or sodas) or destroying something even though we think they are well away from where she can reach.

I won't go into details, but there were times when my playing WoW meant that I wasn't there when she needed supervision.  She didn't hurt herself or anyone else but it put me on notice that I can't be involved in anything that I can't leave when I am at home.  Ever.  At one time I thought there would be times when someone else could supervise her and I could focus on playing, but I have found that if I'm home, I need to be available in case something happens, no matter who else is there.  More than anything else, this led me to the times I wasn't playing WoW but also to the desire to find a way to play so I could leave whenever I needed to.

This wasn't a simple conclusion.  I denied it for a long time and I probably still deny it some days now, but I have found that if I deny it, I will regret it, so those times are few and far between now.  The biggest change has been in my attitude to playing.  However, there is one simple change I have made that makes a huge difference in being able to play:  a gaming laptop.  

For years I have said that I needed a desktop PC so I could have an up-gradable graphics card.  However, in the last 10 years, I have upgraded my PC twice and only upgraded the graphics card once outside of those PC upgrades.  Finally earlier this year, my PC stopped working, my graphics card already needed upgrading and I decided to look at laptops.  We don't have a lot of extra money, so I was looking to spend under $1000 if possible.

I ended up with a Asus G46VW laptop and I'm very happy with it.  They have taken the spot where the DVD drive typically is and have replaced it with a GeForce 660M graphics card.  I bought an external DVD drive for about $20 and I don't miss it.  The biggest downside based on reviews seems to be the screen, but it is fine for playing casually while doing other things.  If I ever get the time, I can hook it up to my 23 inch monitor, and the games do look much nicer there, but that hasn't happened recently.  

I now have a way that I can play plugged in wherever my children are, watch them.  If needed I can unplug it and take it with me, though for the most part, I just play with it plugged in.  It also is allowing me to write this blog post while moving between the den and kitchen to watch my daughter.  I try to be careful with it, but it also seems pretty sturdy, but still portable at 2.5 pounds.

It won't satisfy the person who needs a large screen at all times or the faster processor, but as the main machine for a casual gamer, or a second machine for a more serious gamer, I would highly recommend it.


  1. I got a lot of grief from my more "hardcore" friends about purchasing a gaming laptop, but it has been a god-send for all the reasons that you mentioned. My son isn't Autistic, but having the mobility to keep an eye on him while dabbling on the AH was great. Two and a half years on after paying $1,800AUD for an Asus G74S and it is still going strong, even with e 560M graphics card. It probably needs a format, but it's getting the job of super casual game play done.

    I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas :)

    1. Thank you, we did have a very nice Christmas. I hope you and yours had a great Christmas and best wishes for the coming year!

      A few years ago, there were a lot of things you couldn't play acceptable on a gaming laptop. I believe those days are generally behind us and playing without the greatest graphics is a much better option than not playing at all! I'm glad your laptop is doing it's job and hopefully it'll last you another year.