Portable Gaming Devices

It turns out the camping place where I stay for the first two nights has some WiFi. This means that I can theoretically do a couple of updates.

Being on the road always makes you more aware of portable devices and their limitations. I was considering not taking any gaming devices with me. But with the iPhone, it became almost inevitable anyway. So now I have the following systems with me:

  • NDS XL: One of the most important reasons for taking an NDS is simply the amazing battery life. The DS can go for an astonishingly long time without the need for recharging. Plus it has a quite wide library of games. We have favorite titles for both – my non-gamer girlfriend and me. The new NDS XL may be slightly less portable due to it’s size but it’s still Ok for camping. The only problem I found with all of Nintendo devices are the connectors. Each DS System use a different AC connector. Charging via USB is impossible. Getting a car AC adapter is silly too – it will become outdated as soon as a new system comes out. Still, it’s a solid choice for portable gaming.

  • GBA Micro: Whenever I’m on the road I end up with the Micro in my pocket. It has a long battery life and it’s really, really tiny so it almost makes no difference if you take it or not. I still have some backlog items for the GBA too, I hope I will be able to get at least one of them finished. I just wished you could recharge it via USB.

  • iPhone: I wanted to take the iPhone with me anyway. Mobile internet + GPS capabilities make it almost a non-brainier. I’m really shocked by how useful the device can be. It’s almost the ultimate portable device. I find it hard to imagine functions that could be added. You can use it as a GPS navigator, you can communicate with it in any way possible, it plays music – using earphones or simply with the built-in speaker, it takes photos and then it gives you the internet to look up anything you might have questions about. And yes it plays games.

    I’m especially looking forward for some quality time with Spider and Plants vs. Zombies. I also got me some Diner Dash for the trip. The game is addictive as always although the screen could be a little big bigger. And then there is the obligatory Carcassonne and Words With Friends but that’s a given at this point.

    The thing that is really unfortunate with the iPhone is the poor battery life. After an hour or two of playing, my iPhone is often already halfway ready for being recharged. On the other hand, the fact that you I charge it up via USB is a huge win. This means I can easily charge it up in the car for example.

  • What I DIDN’T take with me was the PSP. It seems to combine all the disadvantages of portables devices in one. It has a very cumbersome AC adapter and it has poor battery life. The games of the old model are also amazingly un-portable. The UMD’s seem too fragile to just throw them in a bag. I can do without it.

    So far the weather is so great that I hardly ever play. But supposedly, there will be some rain next Tuesday. Let’s see how useful those gaming devices will turn out when it really comes down to it.

    P.S.: The purchase of Diner Dash is valid since I finished the first 5 games from my backlog list! Yay!

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

4 responses to “Portable Gaming Devices”

  1. Pete Davison

    Agreed with everything you say on the iPhone front. Battery life needs sorting! I IM on it a lot and that absolutely cripples the battery.

    Actually half-tempted to get a new Touch at some point and then use the iPhone only when necessary. Is that excessive? Why yes. Yes it is. But one could argue that Apple products are excessive anyway. So what’s one more?

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Is the battery life of the Touch any better?

      I found that the big advantage of the iPhone is that it’s a device I carry around anyway. So having games on it means I can spontaneously sneak in some gaming time. The idea is to make a dedicated gaming device redundant. :/

  2. Adam Vogel

    Carcassonne seems to eat up battery-life as well. If you’re playing with friends it will run in the background to keep you updated with push notifications… which is nice, but costly on the battery.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Oh, I haven’t made that connection. But it explains a lot! :)


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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