My 3DS and me - the tastes they are a changin'

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So this weird thing is happening with my 3DS. 

Late last year I toyed with the idea of buying the handheld. I have a sizeable commute every day - about 45 minutes on the train - and that time is always needed to be filled. Podcasts, music and books do the job fine enough. But the growing number of solid titles on the 3DS convinced me. 

Eight or nine months later, I'm gaming more on my 3DS than ever. In fact, I'm gaming more on my 3DS than I do on my PC or other consoles at the moment. 

At first, I thought it was just because I really wanted to finish games like Luigi's Mansion and Pokemon while I was still in the zone. Other games like Arkham Origins, etc, could wait while I finish off these. 

But it's just an excuse. The real reason I can't put down my 3DS? It suits my lifestyle. And maybe that's a little harder to admit.  

At the risk of sounding like a Thought Catalog article by making myself sound 20 years older than I actually am, there's truth to the tale here. I'm 26 years old. I work long weeks. I have a long commute. I don't have a lot of time when I get home at night - I'm spending time with my wife, friends, or other commitments. I don't necessarily have time to sit down and play a game for several hours at a time until the weekend. 

And hell, even then, I don't want to. Over the past several months my attention span for games has really shrunk. I used to be able to sit down and play Assassin's Creed for four or five hours. Now, finishing the first episode of the Wolf Among Us was a stretch.  

I don't think it's the games. It's just me. I have more responsibilities now, stuff to do, things to take care of. Sitting and pumping out several hours in a game isn't attractive to me anymore. It's why I groan whenever a game promises gameplay with more than 30 or 40 hours. Everyone sees value for money - I see a timesink.

Anyway, I was thinking of all of this when I saw a few tweets from Penny Arcade Report editor Ben Kuchera the other day: 

 

I'm not a parent. But going through several life changes will alter your gaming habits - by necessity. It's that I don't love videogames - I still do.  That's why I write about them! It's just that my tastes have changed. I'm not patient enough to sit down and play four hours worth of games when I have dishes to do, stories to write and people to see.

(Side note, this is why episodic gaming is such a goldmine for me. Telltale, keep doing your thing). 

These changes in taste manifest themselves differently. For one thing, I don't really care about buying games as soon as they come out anymore. Sure, I won't take part in the "conversation", but who cares, right? It's important to keep track of games that are coming out and the various debates around them, but if they're not assisting me with my work, then who cares? Am I really stressing out because I can't sit at the cool kid's table this week?

Screw it. The only conversation I care about are the interviews and research I do when looking at my stories, when the focus is between me and my editor. Maintaining a "conversation" didn't help me publish two features for Polygon, and it didn't help me write a retrospective for Eurogamer. 

So this is how I game now - 40 or 50 minutes at a time. Opening and shutting a 3DS and then walking away simplifies my life - no waiting for loading screens or save games. 

As I get older and new responsibilities present themselves, I get the feeling a portable console will become the best way for me to chill out. So hey, if my tastes are changing anyway, I might as well get used to it.  

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