A few months ago, I was honored to be asked to join PlayStation Family, a group of tech-savvy mombloggers who were invited to work with PlayStation. I have to admit, we just bought an Xbox last summer, and already had a Wii for several years. I wasn't sure if we really needed another gaming system. PlayStation was kind enough to loan us a PS 3 for a year, so I figured we would be a good test family since we had some inside scoop on the competition. Over the years, we've had more than our share of Gameboys, PSPs, DS, DSI and other small handheld gaming systems. Honestly, I thought I'd seen it all.
In February, PlayStation released its new handheld gaming system, the PS Vita, to the US Market. The PlayStation Family group was offered loaner units to try out. My 11 year-old son thought he'd hit the jackpot, since none of his friends have one yet. Unfortunately for him, mama had other plans.
I never really considered myself a gamer. Sure, I spend hours on Facebook shooting balls out of a frog's mouth and playing solitaire, but I've always thought of gaming systems as things for kids. We had Pong when I was a kid, which was a little more exciting than watching TV static late at night when the broadcast signal ended for the day.
I decided that the PS Vita was going to be mine first, because I knew that once he got his grubby paws on it, it would disappear into the chasm of doom known as his room and I'd never see it (or him) again. Fortunately, I have a kid with a great respect for property rights, and he has not absconded with it yet.
The only problem with this plan is that I have no idea what I am doing on a gaming system. It took me at least a week to figure out how to play Wii bowling without making the remote fly across the room and take out a lamp or two along the way. Despite being someone game-challenged, I decided that the Vita was my baby.
I carefully opened the package and read all the inserts. My son hovered around me like a hyperactive bumblebee descending on an azalea festival, asking repeatedly if he could play with it, help me set it up, or just observe what I was doing. I banished him to his room and completed my task. I was quite proud of myself that I was able to set it up in about ten minutes, with no swearing and no tears (except for the kid's).
The first game I dove into was ModNation Racers Roadtrip, a madcap racing game in which you can choose a location and race around some scenic courses all over the world. I've played this type of game in arcades and thought I would know what I was doing.
I was wrong.
I had no idea how to use the tiny joysticks to steer the car and crashed into walls, viewing stands, directional signs and everything else along the way. My little driver ended up in last place, with a possible concussion. I realized I needed some coaching on how to use the controls.