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PC gaming things that have gotten smaller, and that have gotten bigger

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Evan using a '99 computer.

PC Gamer’s global EIC Evan Lahti, but in 1999. (He has gotten slightly bigger since then.)

The other day, for reasons I will never recall, I started thinking about the sizes of PC gaming things, and realized that I couldn’t make a simple statement about whether they were generally getting bigger or smaller. Computer tech gets smaller over time, a fact that’s hard to argue with when you consider that early computers were housed in entire rooms. However, it’s not the case that all computing-related things shrink over time. Sometimes we make things bigger because we have more heat to disperse or because they look cool, and while we don’t need to install bulky liquid cooling systems and overclock our CPUs, we also don’t need to set the battle size to 1,000 in Mount and Blade 2. Need doesn’t come into it.

Naturally, I got the stupid idea of cataloguing some of the shrinkings and embiggenings our hobby has experienced over time. Below are my verdicts on which PC gaming things have gotten smaller, and which have gotten bigger. The time frame is loose: I’m looking back to the ’90s and early 2000s compared to the present day.

Monitors: smaller (but with bigger screens)

A person using CRT monitors.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Screens have gotten bigger, but the enormous vacuum tubes of cathode-ray monitors have been replaced by liquid-crystal displays, shrinking overall monitor size and making them considerably lighter. I miss CRTs a little—you can’t degauss a liquid-crystal display, and degaussing is very satisfying—but I’m glad to never have to carry one up a staircase again. I have no proof of this, but I genuinely think it’s possible that the rate of minor back injuries decreased following CRT obsolescence. If not, we must’ve found other ways to pull muscles.

Mouse pads: much bigger

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