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Gaming on the L train

posted on January 22nd, 2008 by derek

I like to look cool. Obviously I’m not alone in this, but living in New York and taking the much-derided (for its “hipness”) L train makes this a more pressing issue for me than most. Many of our dear readers no doubt plop into their clunky cars, polluted with fast food wrappers and other etc’s, and drive to and from work more or less anonymously. I, on the other hand get jabbed with stares by confidence-sapping girls who are far too pretty, rich, and successful to ever want to talk to me for more than an instant. Still, I like to pretend.

So when I received my shiny-black Nintendo DS for Xmas, my thoughts quickly turned to “how cool am I going to look using this on the subway?” In fact I’d say this was the second thing that came to mind, right after “why didn’t I get any fucking games?!” After a few weeks of experiencing firsthand what I had only imagined on that beautiful anniversary of Jesus’ birth, I feel like I can relate some worldly wisdom to our patient readers.

The first thing I noticed is that I am the only person on the subway who has a DS. This doesn’t really bode well for its future coolness, since from what everybody tells me (annoyingly, I might add); New York is “the trendsetter city.” Millions of suckers have spent three times as much money on an iPod rather than buying a similarly-featured mp3 player. I’m told this is partially due to the fact that New Yorkers took to them so quickly, and continue to pin them to themselves for all to see. While they must see it as a badge proclaiming their coolness, to me it’s more like a sign that says “rob me.”

Being the only guy with a DS has its advantages, though, especially in the artist-drenched part of Brooklyn where I live. Thanks to the emphasis on the stylus, pretty girls who read literature might be convinced that I’m using some super high-tech sketchpad or something, and am some fancy artist from the 21st century. At least that’s what I like to think. And for the video-game illiterate, I’m doing something marginally mysterious. Unfortunately people who know nothing about games probably don’t ever want to know something about them.

For those who do know something about games, well… who knows. What I do know is that the only guys playing handhelds are using PSPs and from what I can tell they are normally playing FPSs or Madden. These are usually large men in puffy jackets who spread their legs wide when they sit down, forcing me to shove my knees uncomfortably close to each other. They are probably not impressed at how adorable my Nintendogs puppy is.

Earlier I tried to make a joke about getting robbed. Robbery, however, is no joke (man I really want to make some McGruff the Nintendog “joke”/transition here). One major problem with using your DS on the subway – as I see it – is that as soon as the dude says “stand clear of the closing doors,” Snatchy McSnatcherton can grab your DS out of your hand and rush out just before the doors close. Unlike a PSP, which requires you to clutch your device with as many fingers as possible, the DS is best enjoyed lazily (and barely) holding on with your bad hand, making it easy for Mr. McSnatcherton to, ya know, snatch it. You will then look helpless and foolish wielding a worthless stylus that until recently had been very important in your
imaginary world.

So there you have it. If you want girls who will never talk to you to think you’re cool than a DS might be a good bet. It is also fun. That’s actually a better reason. If you want large men in puffy jackets to like you… try craigslist. I, for one, find it very important that people I’ll never know think that I’m doing something interesting. Which might be why I live in New York.

6 Comments

  1. Matt said on January 22, 2008:

    It’s funny that you say this, as I felt the same way when I started commuting in to NYC through Metro-North. I was a little weary on showing my DS, in fear of being looked at as a silly “kiddie”. But, crazily, people even OLDER than me had DS’s, usually playing a good amount of Brain Age or Sudoku. So I started not to give too much of a fuck. And then, after riding said train for nearly 2 years, I really couldn’t care. Who knows, maybe they’ll see a game that’s never been released yet…

    It’s funny too, the type of people with a PSP on the subways is exactly like the ones on Metro-North. They just love making stereotypes, I guess.

    And I agree, New Yorkers are more into visually-appealing tech than anything. I have an iPod Touch, and when I have it out, everyone is looking straight at it. With the DS, I can’t MAKE people look at it. Even when the cool-looking Phoenix Wright is on screen, no one pays attention!

    Pussies, I tell ya.

  2. Radie said on January 23, 2008:

    This article made me laugh.

    I too ride the L train (but only on the way home, I need the Express Bus and the nap it provides in the morning) I also shunned the DS on the train. But for a slightly different reason…

    Not because of the way I look with it, but because of the way that I act with it. You see, I have been riding the subways of NY for about 20 years now (currently 26 years old) and I have long ago mastered the art of getting a quick nap on the train (the trick is to train your body to count the stops in your sleep), plus I know almost the entire subway system like the back of my hand. In essence, I am illustrating that I am no amateur subway rider, in fact, quite the opposite. But when I get a DS or when I borrow my roommates PSP, I almost always miss my stop.

    Also, do you ever fear having to yell into the DS while on the train? not so cool, there are you, buddy?

  3. GJ said on January 23, 2008:

    This is pretty funny. I game on my DS not only on the metro but also the escalators (which are long, and I am lazy). I don’t really think about how dorky I look unless there’s a girl I want to smile at, then I feel like a geek. Good thing my rugged jewish looks carry the day. Oh wait, they don’t.

    On a side note, I never came close to missing my stop playing Etrian Odyssey, but I’ve come damn close with Age of Empires.

  4. James said on January 23, 2008:

    I used to play DS on the bus, but since LA’s bus system won’t spring for shocks not purchased used from the Army I had to give it up.

  5. jay said on February 6, 2008:

    I saw someone else with a handheld today for maybe the first time on my way to work. Of course it was a PSP and he was playing Madden. My DS and Advance Wars may have looked less manly but I am content knowing it is much awesomer.

  6. Christian said on February 6, 2008:

    All this talk of what you people see being played on PSPs makes me see why its software sales suck.

    Why the fuck are people playing the shittiest games on it?

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