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Where I uncomfortably sit with handheld gaming

I always thought the Nintendo DS, or any handheld for the matter, was not built for someone like me who found it difficult to sit hunched over a 4 inch screen for hours at a time. I was always uncomfortable, I would try sitting up in a chair, lying on my stomach, sides or back, feet up while sitting on a couch, almost every possible sitting variation I could think of. Sitting there for extended periods of time happened not because I was uninterested in standing; it was caused by the amount of time needed to invest into these long games that were filled with overwhelming amounts of content. I’ve sort of given up on handheld games and just focused my attention towards my consoles, until the large mobile gaming boom that started early last year.

The surprisingly rapid growth in mobile gaming in the last few years was unexpected, since the market was thriving on simple and compact experiences like Angry Birds, a game that I’ve seen many times before on flash game websites. Though, it seemed perfect for me; short gaming sessions to kill the time while doing my business on the toilet – it would provide an experience that I didn’t find on other handhelds. The iPhone 4 acted as two things, an upgrade to my garbage cell phone that was a Motorola Razor, and a platform for playing shorter, compact games.

I eventually got an iPhone4, along with games like Plants vs. Zombies and Tiny Wings, but my short trips on that cold toilet seat periodically no longer involved games. Instead, I was browsing the internet, checking for Twitter updates, and reading articles on websites, things I was doing a lot more that I had initially projected. I wanted to focus on the games, and then use the other features as an alternative form of entertainment, rather than my main time consumption on the Smartphone. I was now stuck in this middle ground between full on portable games the DS offered, and the small games offered through the App Store.

The recent lineup of games announced at E3by Nintendo for the 3DS such as, Mario Kart, Star Fox 3D and a sequel to Gamecube’s Luigi’s Mansion (which I am extremely excited for), made me wish I had a 3DS. The previous day Sony unveiled the interestingly powerful Playstation Vita, which also had a solid lineup of titles to be displayed on the OLED screen people have been raving about. The large focus on the handheld market made me feel regretful; I wasn’t part of the group of PSP or DS players that were doing back flips after seeing the amazing lineup of games.

After the E3 conferences, the Hype Train stopped by my house, I boarded the train intending to revisit the DS Lite that was not too far away. This place was called, “The Shelf above my Computer”, a place I have passed by many times to get to place called “The Shelf with all my Console games”. Once I got to “The Shelf above my Computer”, I boarded the train again but this time, I boarded a train in The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks.

The previous DS Zelda game was annoying; aside from the constant back tracking, it made sure I was always uncomfortable since my right hand was glued to the stylus, in order to control Link with the bottom touch screen. I really had no interest in playing Spirit Tracks, I knew it was going to replicate almost everything in Phantom Hourglass, but my excitement towards the 3DS lineup was now the base for getting into handheld gaming once and for all. Not to my surprise though, my bed sheets were messy and my attention slowly shifted more to sleeping, and less on playing Spirit Tracks.

What I learned from my brief revisit with the DS, was that no matter how many different designs or upgrades of handhelds you present to me, I will always hate playing portable games. It’s just so damn uncomfortable. It may seem like a poor excuse to avoiding entire libraries of games, I don’t care, and it doesn’t feel natural to me to play games on a screen with a size that never exceeds the amount of fingers on my hand. I now have a dilemma. I want to play Luigi’s Mansion 2, but my resilience towards handheld gaming prevents me from coming even close to spending $249.99 on a 3DS, especially when I can buy a padded leather computer chair for that kind of money.