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The Switch Captures Everything I Love About Paperback Books

I thought I was just getting a 'Breath of the Wild' machine. I didn't expect how the Switch would create a new way to relate to games.

Rob Zacny

Over the holidays I got a Nintendo Switch, which was perfectly timed for a week of travel to various family gatherings, sleepless nights on unfamiliar beds, and sudden attacks of introversion. The Switch was the perfect thing to turn to after hours of catch-up, small-talk, and holiday traditions.

It was also the king of the airport lounge on my trip home, and pretty much erased a dull flight from existence as I played from Chicago to Boston. It’s a rare night now that I don’t wind-down with a bit of Stardew Valley before bed, and I’ve become almost phobic of leaving home without making sure my Switch is in my bag.

Which is to say, my relationship to the Switch is a lot more like my relationship to reading than to games. While that’s given me a bit of worry that the Switch is going to take a big bite out of my already circumscribed reading habits, I mostly find myself marveling at how the Switch somehow fills a spot that laptops, tablets, and phones never really did. Maybe this is old hat to handheld players—I somehow missed every version of the DS—but for me it’s new and novel.

Most of my gaming habits typically require me to arrange some aspect of my life around them. My Xbox and PlayStation are both practically enshrined within a home theater system. My PC is anchored to a desk, and has managed to make gaming on laptops largely intolerable because they always manage to remind me of all the cut corners and lost performance separating a desktop PC from a portable unit.

Compared to all of this, my Switch is the Penguin Pocket Paperbacks of games: easy to carry, convenient to take out or put away, and doesn’t immediately insist on making itself the center of every activity. That “home” button on Switch has become the equivalent of placing a book face-down on an open page, ready for me to return when I’m free once again, but in the meantime there are people that deserve my attention, and my game will be waiting for me to return, right where I left it.

What's been a device or game that completely changed your gaming habits?

Let me know in today's open thread!