The Joys of Handheld Gaming

I guess the best way to start my first post here at Third World Geeks is to introduce myself. My real world name is Alky, and I’m just a regular guy who simply likes to talk (and write) about the different subjects that I’m interested in. Most of these are subjects that “geeks” are interested in – board games, video games, wrestling, comic books, to name a few – and most of these are already being talked about here so I’m going to fit right in. I also have that “geek” characteristic of thinking about those I find interesting in so much detail, to the point that most folks would consider me obsessed.

Take for example, the Nintendo 3DS. I’m so into this nifty handheld gaming device that I go as far as plan out my purchases months in advance, setting a hierarchy of what games I want to purchase. And since playing Nintendo 3DS games is what I consider to be my main hobby at the moment, I think it’s fitting to talk about why I enjoy handheld gaming so much.

My “love affair” with handheld gaming started when I was still quite young. My first ever legitimate gaming device was the original Game Boy, not by choice but because of financial limitations (I’m living in a third world country, after all). The Game Boy was affordable, with a launch price of just $89.99. The NES Action Set, in comparison, had a retail price of $149.99 when the Game Boy was released. Because of that, my grandmother ended up getting me a Game Boy.

The original Game Boy - the first cartridge-based gaming device that I owned.

The original Game Boy – the first cartridge-based gaming device that I owned.

Like most other people, I eventually outgrew the Game Boy and moved onto home consoles and PC gaming. It wasn’t until I started working when I finally managed to afford buying another handheld gaming device, this time in the form of the Game Boy Advance SP. I enjoyed my time with it, but as technology improved I started to want a better gaming experience so I moved on from this as well.

Finally, in November 2013, Nintendo released a new variant of the Nintendo 3DS. Called the Nintendo 2DS, it was billed as a more affordable, entry-level version of the Nintendo 3DS. I enjoyed my experience with the Nintendo 2DS so much that I ended up buying a Nintendo DS and the New Nintendo 3DS XL. I still own all three devices and still regularly play games on them. This time around though, I play games on my New Nintendo 3DS XL by choice and not because I was restricted financially. Here are the reasons why I stuck with a handheld device rather than a home console:

1. I don’t need a TV to play games

One of the benefits of ending up with a Game Boy and not a Famicom or a NES was that I could play games on it without having to worry about getting interrupted because someone at home wanted to use the TV that I would have needed if I had a Famicom. I was a kid in a third world country; of course I didn’t have my own television set. If I had been given a NES instead of a Game Boy, my play time would have been restricted based on whether any of the grownups at home wanted to watch TV or not.

There was also the added benefit of being able to play during power outages – as long as my batteries had enough juice,
I was able to play as much as I wanted even during blackouts. Even when I finally had my own television set as I grew older, I still had to share it with other people occasionally. And growing older does nothing against a dreaded power outage.

Not needing a TV in order to play games was a big factor for me to decide on going back to playing handheld games full time, and it also ties in directly to the next reason…

2. I can play anywhere

When I was playing games on my home consoles, I was restricted to playing games in the room where I had TV in. If I wanted to play at a different location, that location would need to have a TV or I’d have to move my TV there. And even then, I’d still need to set up my home console before I could start playing, which can be tedious.

When I decided to purchase a Nintendo 2DS, I was thinking of having the freedom to play anywhere I wanted. Whether it be at the living room, at the dining area, in the bath room (I’m not the only one who does this, right?) or – and this is a major plus – outside the house. As I grew older, I started to have more and more real life responsibilities that required me to go out into the real world. Whether it be for short periods of time or for entire days, being outside the house would mean that I wouldn’t be able to play any of my video games IF I were playing on a home console. Or I could take my home console with me, but then I still won’t be able to play without a TV.

Sticking with a handheld gaming device has allowed me to keep on playing video games even outside the confines of my home. I need to drop by the local bank to pay some bills and make a deposit? No sweat, I’ll just bring my Nintendo 2DS and gain a few levels in Bravely Default. There’s heavy traffic on my way to work? No problem, that’ll give me some time to race on a few courses of Mario Kart 7. There’s an out-of-town team building event that I need to attend? That’s great, I’ll be able to beat a few stages in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the way, and sneak in a couple of rounds of Super Smash Bros. once I’m already there.

When I was still playing on home consoles, it was normal for me to go for days without making progress in any of the video games that I was playing at the time. Freed up from this restriction, not a day has gone by without me being able to play for at least an hour. And this ties into the next reason…

3. I can play anytime I’m free

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been having increasing real life responsibilities as I grow older, and this has resulted in less time for playing video games. Sometimes, I barely have time left for me when I get home after work and I end up spending that time for sleep. On weekends when I don’t have work, I spend my time on more important real life activities instead of on video games. I don’t even have children yet – a world wherein I won’t be able to play video games isn’t that farfetched once I start having children.

What I’ve discovered though is I actually have free time. This free time comes in small “pockets” that are spread across my day. These pockets of time could happen at any time – it could be in the form of dead periods at work, while I’m waiting for a meeting to start or in between tasks. It could be when I’m out with my girlfriend, while I’m waiting for her at a salon or waiting for her to finish shopping for clothes or stuff like shoes. It could be at a bank, while waiting for an appointment with the dentist, on the road during a trip.┬áThese pockets of free time though, usually come when I’m not at home, so I can’t really use them for video games IF I were playing on a home console. But because I’m playing video games on a portable device that I bring with me everywhere I go, I’m able to play video games whenever I’m fortunate enough to have free time.

And finally…

4. I get all the above benefits and still get to play console-quality (or close) video games

One might argue that you can still play games on other mobile devices during periods of free time. Not to knock on mobile gaming, but I’m not playing games like Candy Crush or Flappy Bird here. I’m talking about the likes of 80-100 hour long RPGs like Bravely Default, or of critically acclaimed games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Fire Emblem Awakening.

Handheld games (at least those that I’m playing) are full-fledged games that do more than just help pass the time away, and can provide a similar level of entertainment value that home console games do. With the Nintendo 3DS, I’m getting a home console video game experience that’s also designed to be a lot more accessible than actual home console video games are. Finding time for playing video games isn’t as hard as it was when I was playing on the PC or on the different home consoles that I’ve owned in the past.

The New Nintendo 3DS XL - my current handheld gaming device.

The New Nintendo 3DS XL – my current handheld gaming device.

And these are the reasons why I jumped to and will be sticking to the Nintendo 3DS for video games. I’m able to get a satisfying video game playing experience without needing to make big real life adjustments. Since getting my Nintendo 2DS, not once did I seriously consider going back to home console gaming.

What do you think about handheld gaming? Let us know in the comments section below!

One thought on “The Joys of Handheld Gaming

  1. Pingback: Nintendo’s Switch Solves a Lot of “Gamer Problems” | 3rd World Geeks

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