You sitting in or taking out?

Acceptance!  That is all we have ever wanted as gamers, to be held to the bosom of society and embraced as normal people.  Not to be frowned upon or have disparaging looks cast upon us as we walk past, clutching our new games in the branded plastic bags of games shops as we rush home to play our new releases.  Yes, we rush home in this baking weather to sit inside mastering our latest purchase, we spend countless hours mastering the games as our peers sit in beer gardens and parks, socialising, interacting and being outside in general.  It has just occurred to me, this is where we fail, this is the point that we become nomads and geeks or freaks, we shun the outside life for the pursuit of our love.  But it’s not our fault, oh no…

Anyone playing games?
Anyone playing games?

For years and years companies have tried to get us gaming on the go and up until fairly recently have failed miserably.  The first incarnation of handhelds were simple monochrome LCD affairs way back in the early 80s.  They were small, pocket sized devices with severely limited game play, but at least you could take them with you anywhere.  There was never a handheld system for the spectrum era and indeed it was not until the time of the Master System that portable gaming was attempted again.  Sega released the Game Gear which offered full colour portable gaming but as usual battery issues nullified it.  The USA, a few years later, got the Sega Nomad which played all Mega Drive games on its built in full colour LCD screen, but guess what?  Yup, battery power let it down.  It wasn’t until the Game Boy Advance and latterly the DS and PSP that we truly had the option to take our games on the go with us. Yes, the original Game Boy had been out for many years but the games weren’t up to the standards of the home consoles available.  It has only been in the last few years that the general public has taken an interest in portable gaming, largely through the DS, in fact there are not many households with children that don’t have at least one DS.  This doesn’t solve our problem of acceptance though, it goes a bit deeper.

The green battery light lasted 3 seconds.
The green battery light lasted 3 seconds

Think about this, you buy music and you can share it almost instantly with all your friends via phones, laptops, mp3 players, etc.  Buy a DVD or download a film and it can be shared in much the same way.  Most people these days have the technology in their pockets or bags to share vast amounts of media without thinking twice about it.  Phones are whipped out in pubs and clubs, buses, trains, parks anywhere. Huge quantities of visual and audio media are shared but very little of that is games related.  Imagine if you will, a truly portable device that would play all your modern games along with all the media you need to swap about, it just may make the whole game experience acceptable.

This just lacks dual thumbsticks.
This just lacks dual thumbsticks

To go down this route we first have to embrace the whole concept of digital distribution.  It is completely ludicrous to think of a machine that you insert game discs in to to take with you, that takes us back to the whole battery power issue.  So you download the games to your machine that boasts a high definition widescreen display, stereo sound and most importantly dual thumbsticks, it has Wi-Fi, bluetooth, MP3 and a camera.  It is now the must have device, most people have them, on a sunny day groups of people can be seen in the park playing Call of Duty 4 multi player, outside.  The game that you didn’t have the time to finish in the house last night could be finished on the commute in the morning, but wait, you link it in with your console to carry over achievements/trophies.  We now have the ultimate multimedia device capable of all the tasks associated with modern life but also capable of taking gaming truly outside, no longer will we be shunned and laughed at.  That hot guy/girl you have your eye on will no longer sneer at you, instead they will ask you to help them with Mile High.  Our shackles are broken, our restraints are lifted and we can once again integrate with society.  Oh… it hasn’t been made yet!  Get the DeLorean out, we’re going we don’t need roads.

This is not how to do it!
This is not how to do it!







8 responses to “You sitting in or taking out?”

  1. Jay avatar

    “It has only been in the last few years that the general public has taken an interest in portable gaming, largely through the DS.”

    The Game Boy and Game Boy Colour combined sold 118 million units wordlwide. I’d say that’s a lot of interest.

  2. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I’ve bought many variations of the gameboy and do enjoy the ability to play games on the go. Yet, I never seem to stick with them for long. I don’t kow if it’s the lack of many controls sticks/buttons or the lesser impact of playing or a smaller screen, but I tend to play one game and then don’t go back to the handhelds for ages.

    Something with a bigger screen and the ability to watch video as well, yet still small enough to slip in the pocket and not feel off balance because of the weight. Hopefully the PSP Go will help me enjoy more portable gaming, more often.

  3. MarkuzR avatar

    I understand what Martin means about the general public taking an interest, it’s not about combined sales, it’s about the shift in consumerism. Game Boy were traditionally sold to people who fancied playing a game, whether it was kids or adults. Either way, they bought it so they could play games on it.

    The DS generation are different as it’s sectioned, with those who want to play games, those who want it for a more social aspect (ie not to sit in their room and play on their own, but to continue playing with their friends after they’ve left them), as well as those who want to use it for the brain training, portable reading etc.

    It’s basically the difference between the mainstream electronic utility with mass appeal, ie the DS, and the “next gen” game and watch with interchangeable games, built specifically for playing games.

    I grew up in the game and watch era, watched it progress into Game Boy and now to DS and PSP… you’re pretty much guaranteed that there’ll be at least one person per train carriage playing a DS, perhaps one person in the entire train playing a PSP but in the days of the Game Boy you still had to look harder to see them. Saying that though, it was probably easier to close your eyes and just listen for the faint sounds of Tetris 🙂

  4. Anthony avatar

    Jay, as of March this year the Nintendo DS has sold 100 million units worldwide. By its 5th year the GB didn’t even come close to that level of popularity.

    If raw facts aren’t your thing (the figure you speak of is actually 119 million and achieved after *16 years*) then try some empirical evidence as MarkuzR suggests: compare the number of people playing a DS on the next train you’re on with the number of people playing a GB in the same environment 5 years after its release. Then ask them how many games they own.

  5. Martin avatar

    From my point of view the Gameboy was played by gamers firstly but strangely young children also. As i said though it was so far removed from its console counterparts as to make it not truly a portable gaming machine. Although it was.
    Modern portables have been embraced by the general public, to a huge extent with the DS as to bring it mainstream. If current consoles could also do that portably that would be awesome.

  6. Jay avatar

    Sorry, but I’m going to stick to my guns as my own empirical suggest otherwise. GB Tetris was a bona fide social phenomenon, There was even a dance remix of the theme tune in the UK top ten. That the DS is even more so doesn’t disprove the point. To suggest that gaming on the go failed miserably until recently just isn’t true. FWIW, I grew up with G&Ws too 🙂

  7. Lorna avatar

    The Game Boy in various forms has sold more than any other console but the difference between that and the DS that I think Martin is saying is that they are aimed at slightly different audiences. Game Boy was for gamers…the DS, like the Wii is going after something slightly different. Both are undoubted successes but the markets are different. The DS has brought gaming to the masses more than the Game Boy perhaps did, but I don’t think any seasoned gamer could doubt the weighty smack of history being dented by the release of the Game Boy and Tetris. And I remember that song too… 😀

  8. Michael avatar

    What is FWIW?

    Well, like everyone said the DS has increased the number playing thanks to “non-games” like Brain Training etc.

    All I know is I don’t notice disparaging looks and that from the non-gaming public while going about the place with whatever my newest gaming purchase may be; never have done either. And some of my earliest gaming memories were of playing a Game Boy while, for instance, sat up in a tree! 😀

    I like to think that covers both bases of the whole “more kids injured while playing a game than from climbing a tree” complaint…

Leave a Reply