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Have You Played... Setting Up A New PC?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives noodling about PC-related experiences. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

It might just be one of my favourite hobbies. Don’t judge me.

There’s a balm to sitting down with a new PC, or just a fresh Windows installation, and gradually making everything Just So. Every application you need, every sign-in and setting recreated, every icon just so on desktop and taskbar. It’s like moving into a new house, all bare walls and chilly corridors, then gradually spreading life to it over the next few weeks. Setting the desktop wallpaper is as meaningful a stamp of identity as is choosing curtains or putting up a print.

Of course, with a new PC you don’t need to lug around boxes or worry that the lampshape got squashed by wine bottles. Driver downloads are our bin bags full of clothes, Chrome and Spotify and Office are our sofas and dining tables and washing machines.

Then Steam and itch and maybe even Origin, of course. These are the local boozers and parks and ponds, nearby entertainment when the work is done (though not substitute for really going to those places – this is allegory not shut-in strangeness). Just seeing it all take shape, the fixed ideas of what must be where in my mind becoming reality, without reference or instruction – it pleases me.

Shapes and character and most of all true usefulness emerges from the dullness of the freshly-minted Windows desktop. Making a blank, lifeless machine, with all its awful corporate defaults and poorly thought-out toggles mine, as familiar and understood and responsive as my particular demands require.

It’s a day’s project. Sure, it’s gotten quicker in these days of Google sign-ins and Windows 10, but it’s still a project. I wouldn’t want to do it every week – I’m not running away from reality quite that quickly yet – but as an annual endeavour (or more, given how frequently I managed to wreck my OS and have to start over), it’s so very satisfying.

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Who am I?

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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