The title of this isn't some philosophical metaphor. This isn't a "Remember when you were a kid and the games made you feel like the world's most beautiful snowflake, forever propelled forward by a gentle but loving breeze?" kind of thing. Okay, no one actually says that, at least not until they take Historical Thinkers 101 their freshman year of college. When I say the games are getting smaller, I mean it literally.
I've found that as I've gotten older and the demands of adult life grow greater, I gravitate more towards the Monopoly-piece sized games of the Nintendo and Sony handheld consoles, as well as the occasional world-building game on my phone. It seems to happen with a lot of people as they blossom into adulthood. Not to say that I'm old, I'm only 27, but between working a full-time job, doing the wrestling thing, commitments to church, writing whenever I can, and finding time to hit the gym, among the hundreds of other things that take up my time, I simply don't find myself being able to commit to consoles like I used to. I never even owned a handheld system until the DS Lite was released, but now the majority of my gaming is done on them.
Lucky for me, I have a wife who loves gaming as much as I do, and when were not playing Borderlands together, she enjoys watching me play other games. I pretty much hit the jackpot in the wife department. Despite this, it's still hard for me to find the time to devote to a console game. A half-hour before work, maybe an hour after work if I have no other commitments, occasional spurts here and there. I try to make up for it on the weekends, but even then I find myself with plenty of errands to run. I recently purchased the expansions for Skyrim, and I've played approximately thirty minutes of them, because when I play Skyrim, I want to be able to play it for hours on end, and it's rare for me to have that much time uninterrupted.
I miss you :'(
It's also a matter of money. When I was single, worked full-time at a gym (negating the need to go find time to workout), worked part-time at a GameStop (employee discount!), and had my weekends entirely free, it wasn't even a thought for me to go into my GameStop and spend $150 or so on three brand new games. I had the money, and I had the time. Now, I have neither. Not to say that I'm poor, my wife and I both make decent money, but we also find ourselves with more bills. The last game I bought on release day at full-price was Borderlands 2, but prior to that, I can't even remember. I would love to play Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider, and Bioshock: Infinite, but I'm waiting for them to reach that magical $20 price point on Amazon. These days, I'm much more likely to spend $30 on a 3DS game or wait for Vita games to be free on PlayStation Plus than I am to buy the next Triple-A title on the Xbox 360 or PS3.
The games on the handhelds may not be as large or ambitious, they may not look as great, and playing the 3DS for too long may make my hands fall asleep, but those things really don't matter to me. My metrics for a game aren't based on graphics or story. Don't get me wrong, those things are certainly a plus if the game has them, but I'm simply more interested in how much fun I have with a game. I'm a diehard Resident Evil fan, and I can honestly say that I had more fun playing Deadly Premonition than I did RE6, and that game's graphics make it look like I have vaseline slathered all over my television.
If I were to rank my favorite games of the last few years, the majority of them would be portable. It's just more convenient for me. I spend a lot of time on the road for wrestling shows, and have a couple of hours of down time waiting for the show to begin, so what better way to pass the time than pulling out my DS and playing a level or two of Kirby's Mass Attack?
Adorable times 10!
I'm not sure if this is the case for everyone my age or older, but certainly I'm not alone. For a long time I considered portable gaming to be an inferior way to consume my favorite medium, but the tables have turned. Nintendo recently announced a ton of 3DS games, and not so many Wii U games. It seems their focus has changed. Good! Bring it, Nintendo. Give me all the 3DS games you can throw at me. I'll take them all!