Avoiding the Decline of Gaming (Rewritten)

Written by Theundercoverman on 2022-04-05

This is a rewrite of the original guide I made when I first created this website. I originally wrote this not long after DigDeeper removed his article of the same name. Here is an archived version of DigDeeper’s article which inspired this one.

Video games, just like anything else in this world, has gotten worse over time. You used to be able to buy a physical copy of a game and owned that copy, and you could lend that copy to a friend or resell it. Video game consoles didn’t require an internet connection or an online account in order to use. Video games didn’t have an online requirement or in-game purchases. All of this has changed for the worse. Let’s talk about some of the problems with video games today:

This is just the start. I suggest reading Against New Games: Trans-Generational Manifesto and How capitalism destroys everything. It is possible to avoid most problems with video games today, by simply not playing most video games, not using consoles released after 2005, and not purchasing games from Steam or any other digital distribution platform that uses DRM.

There are a few things you need to understand. First off, because physical media for games is pretty much dead and never coming back, nobody really owns video games anymore. Sure you can buy a game off GOG, download the offline installer, and play the game from your PC, but if GOG went out of business, the game you bought will only last for as long as you have it. Then again, physical media will only last for as long as the disc still works, unless you made a personal backup of it on your computer. Because DRM prevents preservation of games, and does a bunch of other shit like in some cases, requiring an internet connection to run the game, games with DRM should be avoided.

Another thing to understand is that you do not need to play the newest games. I’ve already written about how we don’t need the newest consoles and PCs. Most video games, save for the newest, most resource-intensive ones, can be played on inexpensive hardware. Games shouldn’t be judged by graphics and how new they are. Most video games, old or new, are not good and will be forgotten, but the good games will be remembered for years to come. Imagine we’re ten years into the future. In the year of 2032, would you rather play Cyberpunk 2077 (released in 2020) or Doom (released in 1993)? Of course, the same can be said with anything else.

Now before we get into where to get your games and what to play them on, let’s talk about what games should be avoided:

  1. Avoid games that cannot be played without DRM or an internet connection. You can still connect to the internet to play online multiplayer (though LAN is preferred), but it shouldn’t be required to launch the game. Many games are exclusive to Steam or video game consoles. If a game doesn’t have a DRM-free version, forget about it. An exception can be made for older console games which can be ran in an emulator, in which case, you can probably find the ROMs online somewhere. PCGamingWiki has information about where games are available and whether they require DRM, though the website uses Cloudflare.
  2. Avoid games that cannot be played on inexpensive hardware. If you need 16 GB of RAM and the latest graphics card, or the newest generation console to play a game, don’t bother with it. You really shouldn’t be spending a lot of money building an expensive PC, especially if you’re only going to be playing older games.
  3. Avoid games that use microtransactions, DLC, season passes, or other in-game purchases. We already paid up to $60 for the game. We don’t need to spend any more money on extra shit.

Console Gaming

I’m going to be as brief as possible on this since consoles aren’t worth playing anymore. All of the new consoles are just locked down PCs. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are all shit organizations that implement shit like requiring an internet connection to use the console, as well as paid subscription services for online multiplayer and streaming games, and they are hostile towards modders. The older consoles are becoming more difficult to find and as time passes, every console will break beyond repair and it’ll no longer be possible to collect them. You’re probably better off just using emulators to play older games, though console gaming can still be fun if you like collecting games.

There are two types of consoles: home consoles, which you hook up to a television and use a controller, and handheld consoles, which you take with you and play wherever you want. I don’t believe it’s worth getting any home consoles anymore since many games for the PS1, PS2, Xbox, and other consoles are available for PC on GOG or another DRM-free platform. For the few games worth playing that aren’t available on PC, you can probably find ROMs somewhere online and just play using an emulator. If you wanted the home console experience, you can buy a controller, hook that up to your computer, then hook your computer to your TV.

Handheld consoles aren’t much better than home consoles. I’ve only had a Nintendo DS and a PlayStation Portable. The PSP had much better hardware, a better design (only one screen instead of two), more multimedia capabilities (I remember being able to play music and watch videos on it), but the DS had a better game library, so I prefer the DS. Several models of the DS were released but the DS Lite is preferred now since it has a GBA cartridge slot, though the DSi models have a better screen and better hardware.

DS games are pretty easy to find or you can get an R4 card which will read a Micro SD card with all of the DS games on it. Alternatively, you can follow this guide to install TWiLight Menu++, which will allow you to launch games from various consoles (including the GBA, NES, SNES, and Genesis), and Unlaunch, which can be used to launch TWiLight Menu++ on startup. You can also dump game cards using GodMode9i if you want to play DS games on emulators or on your SD card.

PC Gaming

PC’s are the best way to play games now since unlike consoles, they are an open platform. There is no single entity that controls the distribution of PCs and the software and games developed for PCs. You can choose which operating system to run, which software to use, and where to buy your games. Of course, most people use Windows and get their games from Steam, but you don’t have to.

Most computers, especially newer ones, can play just about any game, except maybe the most resource-demanding ones, on the lowest settings, but graphics don’t even matter and since you might not even be playing anything except older games or new games that don’t require a lot of RAM, there really isn’t any reason to buy a new gaming PC or laptop, unless you wanted to play games like Cyberpunk 2077 on the highest settings. Laptops are preferred over PCs since you can take them with you, so if you don’t have one (you should have one), buy a laptop. ThinkPads, especially older ones, are preferred since they last forever and are easy to repair and upgrade, but they aren’t really built for gaming and wouldn’t run a lot of newer games. You can still play all the classic games, most open source games, and a lot of indie games, but if you want to play the newest games (which you don’t really need to play), you can get yourself a new laptop, but they all kinda suck.

Preparing the PC

The first thing to do if you haven’t already is to install any GNU/Linux distro on your computer (there are hundreds of guides online on how to do this). Any distro will do but Artix Linux and Void Linux are two good distros. While Windows does have more compatibility with games since most games are developed for Windows, I do not recommend using it at all. Windows 11 now requires a working internet connection and a Microsoft account just to install the system and the newer versions of Windows spy on everything you do (and this can’t be disabled in the settings). Avoid Windows at all costs.

Now you’ve probably heard that Linux can’t be used for gaming. This is false. Linux can be used for gaming just like Windows. A lot of games are available on Linux, and a lot of the ones that aren’t can run on Linux with WINE. Here are some lists of games available on Linux. Lutris is a game launcher which can install games from various platforms (such as GOG) and emulators, but I never used it since I had problems installing some games on it. There are also a lot of emulators available on Linux, if you wanted to play console games. Emulation General (cloudflare warning) has more information about this.

Where to find games

I’ve already talked about Steam including DRM in almost all their games and requriing that you be logged into your account and have the official client installed in order to play games. Epic also sells games with DRM and is to be avoided. Fortunately there are other platforms such as GOG that do not sell games with DRM, but you must remember that whenever you buy a game, the money usually goes to people who didn’t develop the game (including the person or service selling the game).

Many games including GZDoom (which is a source port of Doom) do phone home, but this can be mitigated by turning off your internet connection while gaming and only turning it on when you want to play online, and if possible, opting out of any spyware. If you are really paranoid, you can game on a separate computer if you have one and only use that for gaming.


GOG is a DRM-free video game platform that sells mostly older games but also some newer ones. It’s better than Steam because not only does it make sure you own the game and offers offline installers, but it also does not require using an official client (though they do pressure users into installing GOG Galaxy by providing incentives and stuff only to Galaxy users). GNU/Linux users can use Minigalaxy, a simple GOG client which lets you download and update games, install Windows games using Wine, and using DOSBox, though I wish it didn’t use client-side decorations (CSDs).

However, GOG has quite a few red flags and has done some stupid shit. If any of the following is a concern to you (which it should be), you might want to stay away from GOG and play other games instead:

Despite all this it’s still far better than Steam, but they still suck. GOG is the Mozilla or Brave of video gaming. You can still buy games from them if you want (I still use GOG even though i’m completely aware of their shit), but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

One more thing about GOG is that they have a community wishlist where users can vote for games and features they’d like to see. If you have a GOG account, add a wish (or if there’s already one, vote for the existing wish) for them to stop using ReCaptcha and Cloudflare (for their support site) and to make their website more accessible without JavaScript.


I don’t know much about Itch.io except they sell mostly indie games (a lot of which are free) and most of their games are DRM-free. They do have an official client, which, unlike Steam and GOG Galaxy, is open source. The website does work mostly without JavaScript, though I haven’t bought or downloaded anything from it. ReCaptcha isn’t required to register, though they do use Google Analytics (which can easily be blocked, but still), and the website is not Cloudflared. They do not accept cryptocurrency or any other anonymous payment methods (though they used to accept Bitcoin). It looks better than GOG but since I haven’t used it, I can’t really recommend it. They’re probably the Bandcamp (before Epic bought them) of video games.

Free and open source games

If you don’t want to buy games on GOG or Itch.io, there are plenty of free and open source games to play. From my experience though, most of the games aren’t that good and a lot of them are just clones of popular games like Mario Kart and Minecraft (though a few clone games are better than the original games). The Libre Game Wiki has a lot of information on FOSS games. Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup, SuperTuxKart, and Xonotic are three good open source games.


Great video games are becoming more difficult to find and some of them are exclusive to consoles and DRM platforms like Steam. Fortunately there are still some options for video gaming that aren’t quite as bad and do respect the user some, but if you’re worried about spyware, you shouldn’t even be playing video games at all (not even FOSS games).

It’s still possible to avoid the decline of gaming while playing retro games, indie games, and even a few modern AAA games, by purchasing DRM-free versions of the game or using emulators. Just remember that most of the money you spend on games will go to people who didn’t develop the games you bought, though you can support developers by donating to them if you like their games. I do not believe video games (at least mainstream video games) will ever be as good as they once were, but at least we don’t have to play them. How long can we avoid the decline?