The Switch Effect

When the Nintendo Switch was first announced, people had strong reactions to the concept of a portable at home console. The announcement video with people playing their Switches all over the place just seemed a little far fetched. I mean, gamers usually play games at home. The idea of going to a party on a rooftop and playing Mario Kart was absurd. The screen was small so how could you possibly play multiplayer games on it. And the joycons are tiny, would it even be comfortable? As an early adopter of the Switch I can say, many of these worries are accurate. But, somehow the Switch's concept has been working better than anyone could have expected. By breaking the ties to the living room, so that local multiplayer can exist in the world, the Switch has become larger than itself. It's become a tool for gamers to connect back to the world.

When I first got the Switch I only used it inside. I was playing Breath of the Wild and that's a game that belongs on a big screen. The closest I got to going totally portable was when I would walk away from my living room and carry the Switch along with me. I realized the potential that the Switch had then, a lot of the time the non gamers in my life would be interested in video games, but had no mechanisms to allow them to check them out. The Switch could change all of that. If someone was curious about Breath of the Wild, I could show them. And a lot of people were curious about Breath of Wild for the attention that it got. So,  every time I left the house I had my Switch tucked away in my backpack just in case. I wanted to give the portable functions a try but, the opportunity didn't immediately arise. I thought that maybe the potential I saw was just potential. And that my initial feeling that it was utterly absurd to expect people to have impromptu game sessions was right. Perhaps it was destined to be a home console. Which suited me just fine anyway but, I was a little disappointed.


Then one day I was having lunch with a friend in my Alma Mater's cafeteria and we got on the topic of the Switch. In less than a couple of minutes, we were playing Snipperclips. As a kid the sort, of multiplayer experience the Switch offers was a dream of mine. I wanted to be able to just pull out my system and play multiplayer on the go. I often looked up console peripherals that would allow me to do just that, but it never made much logistical sense. But there we were laughing and having a good ass time. All of the sudden I knew the Switch was going to be successful, not just because of Breath of the Wild but, for the fact that I could, as a gamer, could finally share these hilarious, chaotic multiplayer games out in the world. There was this moment when my friend got up for a minute and I played another level of Sniperclips with someone else who walked by seamlessly. It was spontaneous like no other console had ever allowed for.



After that first experience, the gates swung wide open. My gaming became more social than ever, I could play Just Dance outside at a party at night, or Snipperclips on a flight. And every time I looked like I had walked out of that commercial I had laughed at a few months ago. But it made me feel passionate about video games again because I was no longer inside myself. I could show my curious professor about Breath of the Wild when she said she was curious from reading about it in the New York Times. This concept Nintendo has suggested of playing games outside. on this tiny screen and with these tiny, uncomfortable half controllers actually worked and has been working for many gamers out there because it allows us one more way to connect back to the world and as opposed to many of those ways, we can carry our games with us.