It started with a tweet, which annoyed me. I'll paraphrase the tweet because I don't want to embarrass the person who posted it. He is, otherwise, a decent human being.
The tweet stated something along the lines of, "urgh I hate all these people getting excited about indie games on the PS Vita, you should support these games on PC next time."
I think that's under 140 characters...
Anyway you get the point. PC master race elitism, sprinkled with a dash of 'that was so last year' 'hipster' sentiment — all in one tweet. I grimaced. I typed a snarky reply which I promptly deleted. If I had posted the tweet it probably would have read like a more brutal version of this:
"What's wrong with people discovering older games on a new platform, and what's wrong with playing catch-up?"
And what's wrong with waiting once in a while?
Today the PlayStation Vita received a price cut. In Australia you can now buy the 3G version of the PS Vita for $269. I'm not going to tell you to run out and buy one, because that would be weird, but I will tell you this: the Vita has become my 'In Case You Missed It' machine, and it could become yours.
The Vita is there in case you missed Hotline Miami, in case you missed Spelunky. It will be there in case you missed The Walking Dead, in case you missed Fez, in case you missed Proteus. You are a human being, there is only so much time in the day. There are only so many games you can play. The PS Vita will be there. In case you missed it. And there's nothing wrong with that.
In fact, I love it.
Once upon a time the television represented the absolute centre of my gaming experience. That is where everything happened. It's where I shot the people, punched the people. It's where I jumped, ran, assassinated, played — engaged with all the video game verbs. Nowadays my TV is a peripheral thing, a dead pile of pixels where The Block and Masterchef happens. All the time. This is where the PlayStation Vita comes in. With a child, and a wife who really likes The Block, handheld gaming has sunk its latches into my life like a black barnacle.
When games I missed on home consoles or PC are released on the Vita I rejoice — because that game now has a far better chance of being played. It has a better chance of fitting seamlessly into my schedule. I can play this game on the train. I can play it before I go to sleep, while my wife watches The Block, while my kid is sleeping or chewing on something plastic. I can play great games on the PS Vita whilst being a completely absent Father and Husband and people don't really notice. What a revelation. Finally.
The PS Vita isn't a device that gives you time, it's a device that allows you to use slivers of free time more efficiently. Games you just couldn't fit into your schedule are now gloriously within reach. That's always been the case with all handheld gaming, but there was always the sense — particularly with the PSP — that handheld gaming was a weak derivative of the real thing. Somehow, on the PS Vita (particularly with indie games) I feel as though I'm playing the most refined version of that game. Maybe it's the interface, maybe it's the OLED screen — it could simply be a lie of technology, but I feel it. And in a world where playing the latest video game right now seems like an obligation, it helps justify the time I spend playing games that are technically older, distanced from current video game discourse. It lets me play those games and still feel as though those games are relevant.
I think that's why the elitism of the tweet that opens this article bugged me; because the Vita has become a machine that brings great, often unplayed games to a broader audience and allows people in my situation the chance to play games they otherwise wouldn't have bothered with. Let's be honest here: the PS Vita hasn't sold well. Big blockbuster titles will no doubt be released on the Vita, but I suspect they'll never quite feel like they belong there. Indie games feel like they belong on the Vita, a device that has grown into a new role: it is the 'in-case-you-missed-it' console and that's a beautiful thing.