When I picked up Paul from his friend's house the other day I found four boys in the middle of a Pokemon battle. Of course I had to wait while the battle raged, giving me plenty of time to reflect on the expanding role of handheld games in my son's life.
When he was about five, Paul got his first handheld game, a Leapster, which played just fun educational games. Oh, how I loved the Leapster. There was no conflict about letting Paul play on it....educational games are good, right? But soon the Leapster was replaced with a GameBoy and games like Math Arcade lost out to games like Pokemon. Gameboys are now obsolete, having been replaced by DS devices. Paul has had three, including the original DS, the DS Lite, and now the DS XL, all increasingly "better" and increasingly more expensive.
If you're a kid and you're older than about eight, you have to have a DS or you're out of it when everyone pulls theirs out and the games start. It used to be that everyone played on their own game, by themselves even though they might be in the same room talking to each other while they played. But now that wireless capabilities allow for group play, several kids can link up into the same game and all play together simultaneously.
That's what was going on when I arrived to get Paul. The four boys were all playing one game linked through a wireless connection, another miracle of the modern age.