Since Apple unveiled the iPhone in the same way Jesus would present himself after his trip from the future, the world collectively orgasmed at the thought of a new, touchscreen, portable life encapsulation device. The focus on the (now bloated) App Store with it’s myriad of productivity apps, social media stuff, and more importantly, games, was the key for many people to ditch their old-hat tactile response buttoned mobile phones and smudge their sticky fingers around Apple’s bank-expanding smash hit. To many, Apple had invented the next best thing since sliced bread, even though consumer priced touchscreen technology or even touchscreen phones for that matter wasn’t new.
But suddenly, portable gaming was socially acceptable. Bolstered big time by the phenomenon that is Angry Birds – which is a rip-off of the free browser game Crush the Castle – playing games wasn’t just for kids. Lawyers, Doctors, and Wall Street suits on their way to go and blow millions of dollars of other people’s cash were all playing games on their phones, as the device holding the games was cool.
So here I sit with the latest incarnation of the Nintendo 3DS, the strangely named New Nintendo 3DS. Faster performance speed than the previous model, extra buttons, 3D that doesn’t break when you slightly move it away from the sweet spot, and what seems to be an excited robot’s rubber nipple called the C-Stick. With that familiar touch screen and old school buttons, it’s very much a device specifically built for handheld and mobile gaming and nothing else.
So why do I get disparaging looks on the London Underground (or anywhere for that matter) when I’m playing my Nintendo? Why am I looked upon as a child playing with a toy? Because in the eyes of the world, Nintendo is ‘for kids’. Whether it’s saving a princess from the clutches of some deformed, possibly sex-crazed turtle, or saving the world as a green, pointy-hatted elf, the views on a grown man playing a portable Nintendo isn’t good.
On my daily commute, if I can bag a seat I whip out my N3DS and blast open Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and try and hunt me some ultimate monsters before I need to exit and lumber off to work. It’s usually 4 seconds after I’ve opened my portable games system that I start to notice people looking down their noses and past their phones at me because I’m not grown up enough to play freemium, money grabbing, paywalled shit masquerading as mobile games. These cash grabbing games may as well be an interactive PayPal transfer for all the entertainment and point they bring. But that’s just my point of view; I’m sure that on the other side of the glass, people are thinking that I’m not cool enough to play an iGame and that I’m missing out on all sorts wonderfully colourful pay-to-advance crap. Incidentally, I do have an iPhone, which is now devoid of all games although I’ve tried most of the popular ones to see what the fuss is all about; games purporting to dethrone Pokémon or the ‘new World of Warcraft’, ones that put you in direct control of a chicken as you navigate it across a ridiculous motorway to a location that God only knows, and an infamous bird that somehow ended up in Super Mario’s world.
I just didn’t get it. Having to wait a few hours for my crops to grow or a building to finish upgrading was not something I was going to hold my breath for, and matching 3 or more items in some sort of colour promoting ‘puzzle game’ sure did puzzle the hell out of me; why would anyone play this? Maybe this form of social segregation wouldn’t have come to fruition if this actually happened.