Playing video games in the living room has historically been the province of the console, but Valve is challenging the status quo.
Just last week we covered how gaming heavyweight Valve -- the maker of games such as Half-Life 2 and Portal, not to mention being the people behind distribution giant Steam -- was introducing new community involvement features with Steam Greenlight, but now the company is set to make an even larger impact on the gaming scene with its new Big Picture beta, launching today. Effectively, Big Picture takes Steam and the PC gamer's regular setup from the usual confines of a desktop or notebook PC and transposes them to a living room TV.
Designed primarily for gaming controller input (as opposed to keyboard and mouse, the staples of most 'serious' PC gaming, which are still supported however), Big Picture has a pretty minimal setup but will require you to connect your PC or Mac to your TV via HDMI. For notebook users, this shouldn't be too much of a hassle, but desktop gamers will need to consider whether it's a solution that will work for them.
Of course, gaming on your TV has always been possible (modern TVs are essentially big monitors if you want them to be), but the significance of Big Picture's debut is Steam targeting the living room. Obviously this makes Valve a more apparent competitor to the likes of Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii, but it'll also be interesting to see if Big Picture's web browsing, controller-based 'Daisywheel' typing and catalogue shopping features help migrate general PC usage to a more communal space. The PC beta of Big Picture is out today, with a Mac version coming soon.