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Distraction and the PSP

November 04, 2005 ・ Blog

My laptop is a complete waste of my time. It has so many exciting things on it that I rarely do anything on it other than dip briefly into a game (like the wonderful System Shock 2, downloaded off Home of the Underdogs recently) before somehow feeling the need to check something else out, like my email, or play half the first level of Super Mario World on an emulator, or check my web statistics, or look at a few photos, or change my desktop wallpaper, or watch the start of some video or other… And I come away, hours later, having not actually done or experienced anything to completion or gain.

Thats why I like console games. You stick the game in, retire to the other side of the room and you’re focused, knowing time and effort is necessary to change it. And it’s why I like handhelds. Usually I’m locked into what I’m playing because my stock of games is far from reach.

Or that was the case before PSP. A couple of nights ago I found that someone has cracked the PSP’s version 2.0 firmware enough to run a good range, if not all, of homebrew. Like SCUMMVM and a SNES emulator. I was so excited by my subsequent 20-minute play of Earthbound and two viewings of the Day of the Tentacle intro that I could hardly sleep.

The next evening I encoded and copied across part one of Jonathan Miller’s A History of Disbelief, which has been sitting on my hard drive for months because I could never bring myself not to get distracted before the intro sequence was over. “Great,” I thought happily, “I’ll finally get around to watching it.”

Then, last night, I arrived home to discover that Rockstar had kindly sent me a review copy of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for PSP. “It’s just like Grand Theft Auto 3 but it plays in my hands!” I whooped as I played through its first mission, ran about the city, drowned myself inadvertently and felt myself sinking into the familiar zen-like boredom I always get playing GTA, unable to tear myself away, yet dying inside because I’m being so aimless – because there’s so much to do in GTA.

This morning I thought I’d take my PSP with me to work to while away the hour-plus journey with audio-interactive-visual-intellectual delight. And found myself performing precisely the same directionless activity I do on my laptop. Suddenly there’s too much to do EVERYWHERE I GO. And I can’t stop myself.