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Introverts Love the PlayStation Vita

What it really means to live on Vita Island

Franco Amati
Jul 24, 2020 · 11 min read

The PlayStation Vita is a dream console for introverts. The people still playing the Vita take pride in being on the outskirts of video game society. As an introvert myself, it’s by far my favorite console of all time. Now, for those of you who might think it’s pointless to read an article about a dead console: you’re welcome to click away. For everyone else, I invite you to take a tour with me through the reasons why PlayStation Vita is the best console for introverts.

あいまい

PARADISE OF OBSCURITY

Introverts tend to be advocates for the unpopular. We recognize that value doesn’t come from a high budget or from what’s on the surface. Instead, we prefer depth in all aspects of life. We’re not impressed when a game has stellar graphics or iconic characters. We don’t go drooling over the stuff in commercials.

We enjoy discovering hidden gems in places where no one else is looking. The Vita offers this experience in spades. For the gamer who prefers subtlety and doesn’t like attention, Vita Island is a paradise.

There will be no successor. This is almost assuredly Sony’s last handheld. So, this makes the Vita even more sacred. Every time you pick it up, you get the feeling you’re holding an elegant beast on the verge of extinction.

放棄された聖域

A SANCTUARY FOR THE ABANDONED

Introverts are drawn to forgotten spaces. In a gaming landscape dominated by powerhouse consoles played on ultra-high-definition screens, the Vita doesn’t stand a chance. It doesn’t impress gamers looking for the latest and greatest. Nor does it appeal to casuals who would rather play on their cell phones. The Vita doesn’t fit in. But introverts understand what it’s like to not fit in.

When the Vita launched in 2011, there was a fair amount of hype. As a Sony fan, I considered getting one upon release. But there were reasons to wait, mostly cost and a lackluster game library. It would be years before the Vita hit its stride as an indie oasis.

By the time I bought mine in 2014, the console was already losing plenty of steam. There were no AAA titles on the horizon, and no one seemed to care about it.

I walked into the store and said, “Hey, do you have any Vitas?” The clerk gave me a weird look, “We have one, I think — but it’s in the back somewhere.” It took the dude over twenty minutes to find the only Vita in the store. Then I had to go to another location to buy a game and a memory card.

Nonetheless, I was excited to have a handheld PlayStation again. I still felt some initial dismay that practically no one else around was into it. But it wasn’t long before I realized, hmm, maybe this is a good thing.

When introverts stumble onto something that no one else cares about, it actually enhances the experience. None of my friends had a Vita. Many of them had never even heard of it. They’d see it laying around my apartment, and they’d ask, “What’s that? What are you still doing with a PSP?” I’d smile and say, “Sit down, dude. This is way better than a PSP.”

目立たない

BEAUTY OF THE INCONSPICUOUS

Introverts are all about not standing out. We’re wallflowers by nature. We tend to live inconspicuous lives. Compared to other handhelds, the Vita lives up to our standard of modesty.

Its shape, while sexier than many devices, doesn’t draw attention to itself. Even the Switch Lite looks clunky compared to the Vita. Its rounded, symmetrical appearance is way more aesthetically appealing than the boxy look of just about every other handheld in history.

The joysticks are as small but ergonomic. The only thing that’s not great is the shiny rear touchpad. It doesn’t do much and looks kind of bad when it’s covered in fingerprints. I’ll admit, the Switch made the superior design choice with the matte finish.

The Vita weighs less than the Switch. I love the way it feels in my hands. It never gets hot with extended play. Most importantly, it doesn’t feel like a burden when I’m holding it. Simply put, it’s a joy to play with.

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Cover image by Adam Valstar on Unsplash.

不適合

CONSOLE MISFIT

Like many introverts, I have an aversion to things that are seen as cool by the majority. If everyone and their cousin like something, I tend to look the other way. Such was the case when it came to the Nintendo Switch.

When the first teasers for the Switch came out and everyone was blown away by how revolutionary it looked, I was like — calm down, you know this is pretty much just a souped-up Vita, right?

Nintendo does deserve credit for giving the hybrid-concept the justice it deserves. But it was sad that the exact same features went mostly unappreciated in the Vita.

Suddenly everyone was gravitating toward the Switch and the Vita barely had a chance. For most of its life cycle, people lamented the fact that handhelds were a thing of the past. They said cell phones ruined the market. Then the Switch swooped in and changed the game.

The true Vita lover embraced this chapter of its existence. Prices went down, games and memory cards got cheaper. The arrival of the Switch meant the Vita could sit peacefully in the shadows. Wallflowers love playing in the shadows.

ロイヤリティ

FOR THE LOYAL AND DEVOTED

It’s such an introvert thing to want to feel like you’re the only one into the thing you’re into. But, in truth, we know we’re not alone. Despite being maligned as a commercial failure, the Vita retained a devoted fan base over the years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vita has one of the highest attach rates of any console. The sheer numbers of people playing the Vita were never astronomical, but those who did loved it hard and bought as many games as possible.

I play the system ALL the time. I’m constantly picking up titles that barely get noticed on other consoles. For instance, I waited with bated breath for the launch of Word Search by POWGI. What kind of gamer waits to buy a word search game at midnight? And sadly, when I went to buy the game in the digital store, the Vita version was corrupt and wouldn’t download. The Sony rep I talked to said it wasn’t ready yet and advised me to just buy it on the PS4 and wait a couple of days. I couldn’t believe it.

非社交的

ASOCIAL DELIGHT

News flash: no one’s really playing the Vita online anymore. It’s fine—true introverts don’t like playing with other people anyways. We see gaming as an immersive solo experience. While some games are fun with two players, the hermit in us will always prefer a deep, individual experience to a multiplayer one.

It’s likely that most Vita players don’t even physically interact with other humans who also have Vitas, which is great—no one’s going to lecture you on what you should and shouldn’t play on it. You can just play whatever the hell you feel like. You won’t be judged for playing Pick-a-Pix Color just to get some easy trophies.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but introverts also aren’t big into spontaneous conversations. Very few people will engage you in a dialogue about your Vita games. Not like it matters anyway, chances are high that you already know a ton more about whatever game you’re playing than just about any other person.

I don’t think I’ve even seen the Vita being played in public in years. Even attending local game expos, where my fellow nerds will openly sit on the floor and play their devices, I have yet to see anyone gettin’ down with a Vita in the wild.

This brings me to another overlooked difference between Vita gamers and Switch gamers. One of the primary conceits of the Nintendo Switch is that it’s an inherently social console. That’s its major selling point. It breaks apart into two controllers, so you can randomly play it in public with other people. Introverts don’t like doing this. Introverts probably look at those Switch commercials thinking, yeesh, do people actually do that?

The Vita is also a godsend for those unfortunate introverts who are forced to live with other human beings. The extroverts in the house tend to dominate the primary consoles. No one’s clamoring around the good old Vita. Just take it to the basement or your bedroom. No one in the house will even notice you’re gone.

What’s easy to forget about the Vita is it practically demands to be played by the one single person who owns it. You can’t have multiple profiles on it. It’s a pain to put another account on your Vita. But who the hell wants someone else playing their handheld anyway? You have to reformat the memory card just to get someone else’s tag on there. Thus, it’s the perfect excuse for loners who don’t want anyone else to put their filthy mitts on their stuff but at the same time are too polite to tell them to get their own.

天国

HERMIT HEAVEN

While many gamers enjoy getting out of the house, walking around the mall, going to GameStop, etc, no one’s doing this for their Vita. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Vita game in a retail establishment these days. But more importantly, if you don’t like being in public, then you’ll feel perfectly content with your choices in the digital store.

Cheap download-only titles are ubiquitous. Most of them are accessible, short, and charming. But crucially, this means there are hundreds of games available for very little investment.

You never have to walk into a brick and mortar store hunting for overpriced garbage, only to find out later that the game takes 100 hours to complete and isn’t even fun. With the Vita, you’ll never drop 60 bucks on a new game (unless you’re a collector looking for the rare stuff — more on that in a bit).

There are tons of goodies on Vita that cost less than 10 dollars. Even if you don’t end up enjoying the game, you didn’t lose much by giving it a try. Plus, you’ll never have to justify the price tag to anyone but yourself.

洞察力のある

DEEP, INSIGHTFUL EXPERIENCES

Games on the Vita tend to offer more intimate experiences. For instance, I fell in love with visual novels — a type of game I would’ve never tried if it wasn’t for the Vita.

I love reading. So when I discovered there were games where the entire experience consisted of reading dialogue and making choices, it was a revelation. This genre served as my gateway to all sorts of Japanese hybrid-RPG-like experiences that just don’t get as much traction in the United States. Games like Steins;Gate, The House in Fata Morgana, and Danganronpa would’ve never been on my radar if it wasn’t for the Vita.

The Vita also has an abundance of my other favorite genre: the 2D platformer. There are tons of well-designed, retro-inspired platformers that made their splash on Vita way before the Nintendo swiped them up to form the bulk of their digital library. Games like League of Evil, Devious Dungeon, and Foxy Land immediately come to mind as standouts.

I also discovered many unconventional titles that delve into topics that are rarely addressed in video games, like depression, alienation, and social anxiety. Examples in this category include Actual Sunlight, Three Fourths Home, and Little Red Lie, which offer mature experiences that challenge the introspective gamer from an existential perspective.

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Source: HD Wallpapers.

反逆者

REBELS AND MIND-WANDERERS

Highly imaginative introverts have mind-wandering tendencies. We dance to the beat of our own drum. I frequently hop from one activity to the next—meaning I’m regularly jumping from one fictional world to another. I like to read, watch movies, write fiction—and sometimes all within the same afternoon. This requires a constant back-and-forth from one narrative space to another, so I need versatility when I vacillate between devices.

With the Vita, you can easily play in quick bursts. Stand-by mode is perfect. The console has a long battery life. Charging is quick. No getting off the couch to dock. You can play a little, and then pause it and go off into whatever else you feel like doing.

To all the low-key rebels out there, the Vita has also become a haven for hackers. It’s no surprise that rogue tech enthusiasts have taken the core of what makes the Vita great and opened it up to all kinds of content. I’m not a hacker, and I don’t advocate it, but I can see the seductive irony of playing games like Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario World on Sony’s forsaken device. The whole thing reeks of sacrilege, which is a perfect way to stick your tongue out at the mainstream.

コレクタ

COLLECTOR PERFECTION

With the Vita, most people can’t have just one. Many Vita owners that I encounter on the internet seem to have at least two or more. Or they’re scouring the web for another one.

I currently have two. I play Western games on my black Vita and I play Japanese games on my orange Vita. I think part of the reason fans are scooping them up is that Vitas are starting to fall into that elusive collector category. It’s almost impossible to get them new or in pristine condition. Games are becoming rarer and rarer. Once-common titles are now difficult to acquire in pristine condition.

The Vita sections of most retro game stores are behind the glass. So they’re generally treated with the same reverence and curiosity as other novelty products. The most difficult to find games have high price tags, and this trend is bound to continue. Production quantities were low during its lifetime because it wasn’t a commercial success, thus making the collector prospects go way up.

最後

CONCLUSION

There are tons of articles out there touting the surprising fact the PlayStation Vita is miraculously still alive in whatever year the article was written. Journalists love writing obituary-style pieces that cover all the familiar beats—how the Vita was once an indie factory, how it’s a Japan-lover’s wet dream, how it has remote play and cross-buy, and that despite its discontinuation, you can still play a big chunk of Sony’s catalog on it.

Yes, all that stuff is important. I’ve touched on all that. But really, screw that stuff. The takeaway here is that the introverts keep it alive. We are the primary inhabitants of Vita Island—the people who don’t like attention and could care less about being cool.

We love the Vita because it’s a shining star of a machine that was abandoned by its creators. So while I don’t always care to engage with other members of the communities I consider myself a part of (because that’s how introverts are), I’m happy to count myself among all the passionate Vita Islanders. I hope this serves as a love letter to them. Long live the Vita!

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Cover image by Adam Valstar on Unsplash.

SUPERJUMP

Celebrating video games and their creators

Franco Amati

Written by

Speculative fiction writer from New York. For published work visit francoamatiwrites.com or buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com/francoamati

SUPERJUMP

SUPERJUMP

Celebrating video games and their creators

Franco Amati

Written by

Speculative fiction writer from New York. For published work visit francoamatiwrites.com or buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com/francoamati

SUPERJUMP

SUPERJUMP

Celebrating video games and their creators

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