I played Hitman 2 on the toilet for an hour today without dragging my console and flatscreen into the bathroom.
This might seem like a small victory, but it felt huge. Thanks to the magic of smartphones, I streamed the assassination sandbox to my phone while doing my normal mid-day business. It was as simple as pairing an Xbox One controller to my phone, downloading an app, and running the game. After five minutes of set up, I was pooping and murdering at the same time (I didn't poop for an entire hour, I just stayed in there that long to do some testing)
By now, we’re all accustomed to wasting part of a busy workday on the john playing mobile games like Reigns but we’ve entered a brave new world where AAA console titles can be streamed over the internet to our diminutive devices.
Until recently, gaming while huddled in a stall meant turning off the sounds (or using headphones) and running simple mobile games like Kingdom Rush. Handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS existed, but didn’t deliver a big budget experience on the go. The Nintendo Switch changed that—suddenly anyone could sneak off to Hyrule in 3D for a bit while going number two.
Valve’s Steam store for PC and Sony’s PlayStation 4 both allow people to stream video games from their PC or console to a phone, tablet, or laptop. Microsoft is working on doing the same with the Xbox One. The catch was that, until recently, users had to do this on their home network. You couldn't easily stream games from home to anywhere you happen to be. That’s changing in a big way.
Ahead of next week’s Game Developers Conference (GDC), Valve announced a beta version of Steam Link that allows users to stream their PC games anywhere, not just at home. An even bigger leap forward is cloud-based game streaming, where you don’t need to own a console or a PC in the first place. Google is working on its own stream-powered gaming platform too which it will presumably announce at GDC.. Microsoft is working on it and is reportedly developing a console exclusively for streaming games. Sony released Remote Play—its console to phone streaming app—for iOS on March 7.
My friends, we’re in the golden age of gaming while pooping.
Although stream-anywhere, cloud-based gaming services aren’t here quite yet, playing high quality video games on your phone is still as easy as downloading an app—as long as you already own a gaming PC or console.
For PC owners with Steam libraries, just download the Steam Link app to your Android device (Apple rejected Steam Link’s App Store application last year), run Steam on your computer, and follow the app’s instructions. It’s best when using a controller—you can pair an Xbox One or PS4 controller to your phone via bluetooth—but touch controls will do in a pinch.
Hitman 2 worked well on the Xbox One controller, but the touch controls were odd and I don’t recommend it for longer play sessions. Steam Link’s best pooping material is going to be 4X games such as the Civilization series. The measured pace of a strategy game is great for passing time on the crapper.
PS4’s streaming service—Remote Play—works the same way. Users download the app for their phone, run their PS4, link the two devices, and stream games from the PS4 to their phone. You can pair a controller to your phone with Remote Play, and I recommend it—the PS4 games were less navigable on a touch screen. I tried Bloodborne, and it just didn’t quite work.
Both services work best over a home network, but it’s not impossible to get them running outside the home. Steam’s game-anywhere version of Steam Link is still in beta, but clever users can run their phone through a VPN and trick either Steam Link or PS4 Remote Play into thinking that the phone is on the home network while you’re out and about.
Soon, all the barriers to poop-gaming will break down. One day, gamers will no longer be tied down to their consoles, televisions, and PCs. We’ll all be able to open up our phones and play whatever we want, wherever we want, whenever we want.
Especially while going number two on the boss’s dime.
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