The DS was made to change the way that games are played.
If the PSP changes anything about the way games are played, it's that now when you play, you might actually look hot.
Sony marketing's ability to present the PSP as a "lifestyle accessory" rather than a gaming system has really impressed me. Witness Korean website PSPStyle. This is a series of 3 model galleries on the themes of 3 classic fairytales, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, and Cinderella. Throw in some glamour, add a PSP, and there you go.
And that's what's so odd, really. I mean, yes the PSP is a sleek little device. It fits into the style of the photographs, but, I mean, they're so posed and awkward. It's like they decided to do Gothic Lolita night on The Price is Right. It's not really sexy or mysterious, it's just silly.
When it comes down to it, the best glamour shot of a PSP wasn't even made by Sony marketing. It was made by some girl. I linked to the original picture from Kotaku a few days ago. Much to my surprise, the girl writes for gaming blog-thing RedAssedBaboon under the name of Hatsumi. She has in fact written about "the picture," finally proving that ours isn't the only website where women will fondle gaming hardware and then reflect on it.
One the one hand, I think it's really awesome that our gaming devices can look like something you'd want to be seen using. I remember when critics praised the Gameboy Advance SP because it was so small that respectible people could carry it discreetly. Why shouldn't the world learn to see people who play games as playful, sexy creatures? On the other hand, there's the flag waving nerdcore gamer in me who wants a handheld to be awkward and gangly because it means that when I do see one it's like a little sign saying "I am of your people."
This is, of course, ridiculous. Random guy on the street with a GBA SP is no more likely to be anything like me than random guy on the street with a PSP. It's great that gaming can be trendy, and that the 300 pound guy on the train the other day and Paris Hilton are both PSP owners. Maybe now there'll be some demand for game-related clothing that breaks the basement-casual standard? After all, if there's one thing we gamers know how to do, it's play (and pwn) well with others, and the pool of "others" just got a whole lot bigger. Right now, gamers are coming out of the basement, into the lime-light, and you know what they look like? They look like me. They look like you. They look like Hatsumi. But they're all here because they love games. No doubt we'll get to have arguments over who was a gamer "before it was cool," but if it means that we can argue over a friendly wi-fi deathmatch, then I'm looking forward to such inanities.