Crispy Gamer

The iPhone's REAL killer gaming feature (or: How my iPod Touch saved me from Nancy Grace)

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So, last night didn't go exactly as planned for me.

After winning an intramural softball game and going out for some thai food with my wife, I had planned to catch up on some work and then catch up with some friends for homemade ice cream. Instead, my work was interrupted by a call from a friend who lives five flights down:

"Can I ask you a favor?"

"Probably, what's up?"

"Can you drive me to the hospital?"

Short story even shorter, my friend was worried that his vision was starting to blur after being hit in the eye with an errant softball throw just hours earlier. Obviously, I dropped what I was doing and ran down to grab my car.

In my slightly panicked rush, I didn't have the time or presence of mind to grab a DS or a PSP or even a book to keep me occupied in the waiting room. This could have been extremely unfortunate, as I ended up waiting nearly six hours in two separate hospitals for my friend's serious but non-urgent condition to get checked out by the ER doctors (he'll be fine with some eye drops and about a week of bed rest).

There were some magazines sitting in a rack, but the April issue of Redbook was the most interesting one, and I've already read that through five times (note: not really). There were a couple of TVs too, but I didn't really find ESPN2's World's Strongest Man marathon or Nancy Grace's endless, screeching speculation on Michael Jackson's kids especially diverting (I'd have changed the channel if it weren't for the serious looking "PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE TV!" signs littered about).

Thank goodness for the iPod Touch that happened to be sitting in my pocket, as usual. With endless games of Scramble, Eliss, Flight Control, and drop7 to distract me, the hours-long wait actually flew by quite enjoyably (Well, except for the extreme air conditioning in the waiting room). What's more, the hopsitals even had free WiFi, so I could follow the unfolding MLB All-Star game and catch up on blogs/Twitter while I sat.

I don't know too many adults that carry a PSP or DS around with them at all times, on the off chance they might want get a few moments to play. But iPhones and iPods are increasingly becoming a default part of our pockets and pocketbooks. And that's the real transformative promise of these units as gaming devices. They offer the opportunity for a quality gaming experience that's truly available at all times, ready to pull out whenever you have an idle moment (or several hours of them).

Last night, I realized the iPhone's real killer gaming feature isn't in the App Store or the tilt sensor or the large, multi-touch screen or anything like that. It's in its sheer omnipresence.