I was listening to the Giant Beastcast episode from a few weeks back that guest-starred Waypoint’s very own Austin Walker. One of the emails they got asked about the best console upgrades, which revealed Austin’s attachment to the Game Boy Advance SP. Here’s some of what he had to say:
It doesn’t feel like looking at a game console to me. It feels like looking at my keys, or looking at like, something important […] It fit into my life in that way where it was like, “Oh yeah! I’m gonna grab the things that are important to me: my books for school, like, my glasses, my watch, […] and my GBA.”
I have to agree with Austin that the GBA SP is Very Good. The build of it, the clamshell design, and the pocketability of it all served to make it better suited for your life, and it also gave it this charm to it. I keep thinking about this in terms of all the gadgets and various things I have. Like, my 3DS just feels kind of delightful in a way that maybe I don’t feel about the Switch, if that makes any sense. I still take my Switch everywhere, but it feels more fragile, I carry it in a bag just for it and accessories, and it just doesn’t hit the same design points.
So, what have you had that felt important and worked in tandem with your life?
I took my GBC everywhere as a kid but this really makes me think of 2014. I got my first job out of college and having a little disposable income for the first time, I bought a 3DS and a Vita. I alternated taking them with me and about, whether it was having an afternoon drink at a quiet bar and playing in the corner or on the patio, or sitting on a bench in the park. It reminds me of that year pre-gf when I didn’t really have many friends/people I knew in my city and got back heavy into games for the first time in a few years.
I think it would have to be my GBA SP with the critical inclusion of the cable needed to link it to other systems. Whenever my family would travel my brother and I would check, and double-check, that we had our SPs and cable that we could play Pokemon together. The SP was such an excellently designed system for the reasons listed above. I loved carrying that with me and knowing I had something that I could share with a sibling or friends.
I moved to Japan a week or so before the New 3DS came out, and it was my first major purchase there. I didn’t realize that it would end up being a major key to social interactions with people I wasn’t studying/working with. It went everywhere with me. The little mii thing that appeared when you were near someone else was like a beacon. Because I was usually the only black one people would sometimes stop and look for me if they were playing theirs and speak because it was obvious who I was. (note: this was usually school children so that was weird. Suburban Japanese kids can be bold as heck). It kept me occupied on the trains, it was a good time waster in between classes or waiting to drop off deliveries. It was rare that I didn’t carry it with me. If I had room in my pockets for one additional item the 3DS was coming. (which means it came with me to some seedy places when I would get stuck out past last train).
They’ve definitely gone from something that fit in your day-to-day life to something that can dominate it. I don’t know if I particularly like my phone, though. There’s not a lot of modern smartphone designs out there that I’d find charming at any rate. That said, I don’t really know what I’d be looking for anymore – I can’t exactly go back to a flip phone – but I’ll say that I think about cell phone charms occasionally. Phones should be cooler.
Gosh I miss Streetpass so much.
Something tangentially related: I still think local wireless play is really cool, for whatever reason. I was with a friend at a boba place and we both had our Switches with us, and we played a few rounds of Puyo Puyo Tetris across from each other on our own screens. I don’t know why I love that so much but I do.
The Switch came out right near the end of high school for me. We had a class period dedicated to having a little party after tests were over with in our math class, and the four of us with Switches in that class organized to bring them that day. We put our desks together, with a Switch on each side, and played 8-player Mario Kart with two people per screen, a Joy-Con each. We even got our teacher to play a round. Very good memories.