My parents didn’t want to pay for computer games because a) they were too expensive and b) I needed to “get out more.” So I did. I went down to the Apple computer store near where we lived in Sunnyvale, California, and I cut a deal with the owners: I’d help sucker passers-by into the store for demonstrations, and in exchange, I got to borrow whatever games I wanted from the vinyl cassette binder they kept at the counter.
I’m not a lawyer and I’m bad with numbers so I couldn’t tell you how many laws were broken in this arrangement, particularly the one about not playing games you haven’t paid for. But all things considered, I think developers may have come out ahead in the end. That vinyl binder—holding it felt like holding the Cross of Coronado—imbued me with a life-long love of games the same way the public library I worked at indulged and promoted my love for books.
That’s yet another reason to love PC gaming. Everywhere you look we’re up to our HUDs in high-quality free games across every genre (check out our favorite 50—and more!—in “PC Gaming for Free” on page 33). I get why some developers bristle at the notions of free and deeply-discounted games, but they’re the kind of spark that ignites the passion for PC gaming. And that passion creates not only a new generation of PC gamers, but of developers too.