July 25, 2024

The portable gaming device tragically departed from popularity and slipped into the past on Jun. 29, 2007 at 6 p.m. along with its family members. On this monumental day, the handheld gaming systems’ competitor and origin of its demise, the iPhone, was released to thousands of eager consumers. The handhelds were left abandoned and forgotten at home.

The portable gaming device (PGD) was born in 1976 with the release of Mattel’s Auto Race handheld game, which was about the size of a calculator. This release began a rapid stream of developments from numerous companies worldwide from 1976 to 2011. Handhelds had made it into nearly every home in America.

With its entry into daily family life, the handheld escalated from popular fun to a necessity to everyday living. Kids found that, in order to be considered cool, owning a well-known PGD was mandatory. Parents found that in order to keep the children content and quiet on car trips, handheld games were imperative.

Instead of bicycles for birthdays and footballs for Christmas, parents purchased video game consoles, games and accessories, encouraging their kids to remain indoors instead of playing outdoors. In fact, the entire world of playtime has been redefined by the generation of gamers, where football is passé and gaming is the new social activity.

The most popular and most used PGDs that have passed included the Nintendo Gameboy (1989), Gameboy Color (1998), Gameboy Advance (2001), Nintendo DS (2004), Playstation Portable (a.k.a. PSP) (2005) and Nintendo DSi (2008).

The growth of the PGD industry inspired a great launch in game development, encouraging the advancement of hundreds of new concepts and games. PSP consoles ran games like Final Fantasy, Rock Band Unplugged, Metal Gear and Patapon while the Nintendo family released popular games like Pokémon, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario 3, Metroid Fusion, the Castlevania series and Wario Ware Twisted.

Many gamers retain fond memories of beautiful summer afternoons engaging in epic battles, leveling up, solving tough puzzles, earning weapons and titles and triumphing over the biggest, baddest bosses that were ever imagined. Most will never forget the hours of entertainment that they provided during traffic hour, wait times at the DMV with Mom, grocery shopping, bus rides and even during class.

As the world moved on from the passing of the handheld gaming console, others have taken their place, such as the iPhone and iTouch, which allow their users access to the Internet and an infinite amount of games at their fingertips. The young have overtaken the old, casting them out to the junk drawers and thrift stores of the world.

No public ceremony will be held but the handhelds appreciate any thoughts sent their way and invite anyone on Memory Lane to visit them occasionally.

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