If you give yourself an absurd but subtly practical gamer chair, you’ll ask yourself for a new microphone. When you give yourself the new microphone, you will ask yourself for an all-in-one audio mixer with a studio-quality preamp. When you have the microphone and mixer, you will look into your monitor and realize it is small and dinky. After you order an ultra-widescreen monitor, you will wonder if you can still pay your taxes.
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is a surprisingly messed-up tale about the supposed dangers of being nice to people (that has been used to hold up bad critiques of welfare systems), but I have found that its core argument holds true in precisely one arena: me upgrading my gaming setup. It started with my decision to order a hideous, beautiful, monstrous, perfect $450 pink gamer chair a few months ago, but it certainly did not end there. You see, for most of my life, I’ve been perfectly content to skate by on spartan gaming setups. I buy a decent PC, a flimsy mouse, and a no-frills Xbox controller, and then I’m set for at least a few years. At that point, I can play games. What more do I need? Bells and whistles are just shiny distractions for chumps. Or at least, that’s what I thought. But buying that gamer chair stirred something inside me—something terrible.
It was easy enough to justify the microphone and mixer purchases that came in its wake. I’ve been wanting a proper streaming and podcasting setup for a while now, and given that I plan to continue self-quarantining for the foreseeable future no matter what policy permutations follow in the pandemic’s wake, it made sense to upgrade what is, at this point, my main means of communicating with the outside world.
At first, I was just gonna grab a USB mic, but on the recommendation of Kotaku video mastermind Chris Person, I grabbed a real grown-up microphone that chews up room sound and spits out nothing. All people hear is me, completely unfiltered, and while I assume that’s terrible for everyone else, it makes me feel good. Plus, the mixer has a button that lets me bleep curse words, and it lights up. The pattern I currently have it set to is called “Vaporwave,” and it produces cool cotton-candy colors. These things are meaningless and should not bring me joy, but for some reason, they do.
That should’ve been it, but then, the other night, I took stock of my setup and realized that its centerpiece—my very capable gaming laptop… sitting on a rickety stack of books on my desk for better visibility—now looks woefully out of place. It’s also never completely comfortable to look at or use. No matter how many books I add to or remove from the Elevation Pile, I’ve always gotta crane my neck in some awkward direction. I imagined playing a cinematic game like Control or Death Stranding while leaned back in my chair and bathed in some towering obsidian megalith’s warm glow, and it felt like a safe little bubble—a temporary escape from the melting planet that I’m a relatively fortunate inhabitant of, but which is nonetheless leaving me feeling like a drained husk at all hours of the day. This made the purchase seem even more worthwhile to me, even though an uncommonly self-aware voice in my head told me that I’d likely just use it for doomscrolling, but, you know, giant.
So, I figured, if I’m gonna buy a monitor and be stuck inside for possibly the entirety of my early 30s with only the monitor to keep me company, I may as well go all out. I began searching the internet for ultra-widescreen monitors with bonkers resolutions and refresh rates. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that a top-of-the-line ultrawide costs more than $1,000. I am clearly going through something right now, but even I have limits. So I went for a much cheaper budget model that all the reviews said was alright as long as you didn’t mind making a few compromises.
But of course, if I’m going to plug my laptop into a monitor, I’ll need a USB keyboard. I’m pretty sure my oddly angled laptop keyboard is giving me carpal tunnel, so this is an undeniably sensible purchase. And that keyboard will obviously need to light up, because my mixer lights up, and so does my mouse. Judge me all you like, but we’ll see who’s laughing when my dazzling array of several thousand LED lights cures my carpal tunnel.
Fortunately, it’s not like there’s anything else I could upgrade, right? I mean, yeah, my mouse is a little flimsy, and sure, my Xbox controller is looking a little long in tooth, and yes, my webcam is several years old, and fine, I will admit that I don’t even have any speakers, and honestly, who among us could not use a $3,700 cockpit in case we get an itch to play space games again one day, but I think I’m basically set at this point and probably will not get a sudden urge to buy anything else for my gaming setup ever again.