Crazy thought, but not everything that makes a photographer's life better is camera-related. To be good at what we do, we have to unwind. We must find ways to relax. Sounds easy, right? Not so much, as it turns out. I've been looking for something to help me unwind while on the road, and I think I just found it.
While technique and skill sharpen themselves over repetition, experience and trial, the ability to envision the image gets blocked by stress. I imagine we have all been there, trying to force a shot that just wasn't working only to go on vacation and have images jump out at you. Because you were rested and relaxed, you began to see. Physical and mental strength play a big part in being able to keep up a packed shooting schedule.
Q: What does this have to do with a portable video game?
A: More than you would think
For busy commercial or traveling photographers, plane flights and hotel rooms become our second homes. The problem is, even if you manage to scrape together the funds to put yourself in first class or a nice hotel, neither really ever feels like home. So what do we do? We try to find ways to make our geographic locations less important to our mental location by bringing along creature comforts that get us away, even if only for a couple minutes. For me, I have always found that video games and watching movies do this better than anything else.
The ability to play games on a flight has been something that I actually look forward to when traveling. I enjoy it because it is that one time when getting work done is not an option, so there is no guilt associated with gaming. We have all been on a Southwest flight or two and know that it's tough to get things done with their WiFi (I've found it to be rather unreliable). On top of that, many of the shoots I do are under non-disclosure agreements, so pulling out the laptop to work on files is also not an option. Which leaves the remaining goal... beat Super Mario 64.
Once the plane lands and I get to the hotel, it is a different story. I can retire to my room and work, usually while sitting in bed or at a desk. However, one aspect that I enjoy at home is missing: my TV shows and movies. A quick confession... I watch terrible movies (like the ones that people see and roll their eyes) while editing and writing emails. My counter says I have watched the movie Armageddon over 70 times. The movie is white noise to me that I can tune in for a couple minutes and not miss anything.
This brings me to the NVIDA Shield (took long enough, huh?). For the first time, I can have a device that is made to do exactly these two things. Yes, I know that other tablets, like the Nexus 7, can do this. However, I have found that tablets like the N7 and iPad are better suited for keeping me current on news, my web stats and emails. Rather than trying to make a tablet into a gaming device that has to be put on pause every time Linkedin sends me another darn email, I find that having a dedicated game rig without email works best. The Shield also has a controller built in, so carrying around an extra bluetooth controller is not needed.
Now for those of you (probably the guys) that are still reading, the next question that comes to mind is the games... Yes, I know that Android doesn't have a ton of great ones yet, but there are some big time workarounds for this. While I think modern games are awesome and all, I relax and enjoy games like Gran Turismo, Golden Eye, Star Fox and Super Mario 64. All of which is downloadable (through emulators), but I encourage you to do like I did and go out and buy the games to support the developers as well.
As for watching movies while editing... The Shield has an HDMI out on the back of it, therefore bringing along an extra cable in the camera case means that I can hook it up to any hotel room TV and start watching shows like it was my own DVR. With a removable 64GB card, I can pretty much keep my entire movie library with me (even though I'm just going to watch Armageddon over and over again). If I feel like being adventurous, I can also watch Netflix, and if I really miss commercials, I can watch Hulu.
I really didn't think I would have so much to say about a portable game device. With the release of the Shield only two days ago, I am putting a lot of hope that the mental escape I envision it to be becomes a reality. So far I am looking at 34 days on the road before October, I know that this shooting schedule will be a tough, but with the NVIDIA Shield, I think that surviving it will be a bit easier.
And yes, I know I'm a geek.
Do any of you use video games to help relax and de-stress? I can't be the only one.