I’m a commuter. For almost two hours every weekday I’m held prisoner on West Midlands Railway’s ageing rolling-stock trying not to make eye contact with a group of strangers who I see more of than most friends or family. The snippets of their lives that I encounter I even share with my wife when I get home…
… for example the saga of the lady who’s daughter wouldn’t accept that her stuffed bunny had gone to live in a lovely toy shop when infact it had been lost, so she ended up trawling eBay for several days to track another one down. Or the teenagers who spent most of a journey discussing why pyramid schemes were illegal and how they probably shouldn’t put money into the one their friends were running….
For all you non-commuters out there who are wondering why commuters don’t speak to each other the reason is pretty simple: We’re all terrified. All terrified of making a ‘commuting-buddy’; someone who we’re then obliged to say hello to everyday, make smalltalk with, or worst of all sit next to for two hours everyday struggling to avoid controversial conversation with, so endlessly dissecting each aspect of the weather or sarcastically berating whichever generic train company runs the service that week. Continue reading “Rotten to the Core: Winning my Own Way”
It’s a very Nintendo-ey time… don’t you agree? In the last year we’ve seen the launch of a new home console, the writhing clamour of customers trying to grab the NES mini or pre-order the SNES mini, the first mobile Mario game, and astronomy carried out with a GameBoy Camera. All this processing neatly through the door after a distinct slump in interest led by the cool commercial reception of the Wii-U (not that it didn’t have its own small devoted following as evidenced by James over on QTX). Given that I’ll soon be indoctrinated, or stamped, or branded, or subject to whatever initiation ceremony those entering the clan of Ninty are subject to with the arrival (hopefully) of my very own Switch in a month or so, it seems right that I look back at the arrival of my last Nintendo handheld console, the original 3DS. It’s also fitting as the great ‘N’ have just announced that production for the small, traditional, 3DS will cease more than likely indicating that they’re winding up for their next handheld iteration… or not if you believe the predictions that the Switch and mobile gaming is aiming to cut that facet from the Nintendo brand.
The 3DS is one of only two consoles that I was lucky enough to get at launch, and even then I didn’t get to play it on launch day; the ancient powers at Amazon (UK) decided that the good people who had paid that little extra for express delivery wouldn’t get their console on launch day whereas those less financially-liberal individuals who had opted for the standard delivery would be allowed access to that brand-new box of tricks with little explanation. When it did arrive a day late, I was nevertheless as enthralled with it as I had hoped. I had originally ordered the 3DS for two main reasons; firstly I had missed the DS hype, but liked the dual-screen idea and was eager to try some of those titles (which would undoubtedly be dropping in price with the arrival of a new, but backwardly compatible, system). Secondly I was captivated by the idea of glasses-less 3D, sure, now the cutely named ‘2DS’ is almost as popular as the original and that new releases havn’t relied on 3D as a selling point for some time, but at release 3D was big news and highlighted once more how Nintendo are risk takers when it comes to innovation.
I’ve spent the week messaging strangers, and in a weird way, as the clock ticks down to my bronze medal, I’m going to miss them.
The past 15 months of having an hour commute by train bookending either side of my working day has left me with time to think, work, and grow an interest in mobile gaming; it’s not the only thing I do with the train-ride each day (this blog for instance comes from those hours) but it is in the mix. Prior to this, I had a certain disdain for mobile games, which I would defend as not entirely unfounded. I dislike intensely the concept of heavily monetised and ‘pay to win’ games which at first glance does seem to have infected the Google-play store to an almost suffocating level; as a side note, I’ve only ever seen one article supporting this type of monetisation which as written by someone employed to show developers how to best monetise their apps. Dig a little deeper however, and there are some titles worthy of the time and well suited to the, usually short, gaming injections that we can grab in those moments on the move. The ‘Go’ games (Hitman and Lara Craft), various mobile editions of popular boardgames, and ‘Star Realms’ (based on a physical card game) provide a swatch of the colours of things I’ve been enjoying.