I have a fairly lengthy commute into the VideoGamer.com towers: 50 minutes on a good day, well over an hour and a half on a bad one. So, I make the most of it by getting lost in Drake's Golden Abyss, or rolling giant balls across the cosmos.

The problem is, taking out a dedicated handheld gaming device on a packed commuter train still appears to be frowned upon. In the two weeks that I've tried gaming on the go, I've regularly received those odd, disapproving looks from all walks of society. You know the kind of look I mean, that type of glance where you can tell they're thinking, 'isn't he a little too old to be playing games?'

It doesn't seem to matter if other commuters are gaming on their mobile, either. Playing Angry Birds or Solitaire on your iOS device, it seems, has been accepted as a social norm. But attempting to play Uncharted on your Vita still appears to be seen as a relative abnormality. I dread to think what kind of looks I'd get if I were to pull something as big as a 3DS XL out of my bag.

But why is it still considered odd for an adult to play games in public? Is it because I, a 26-year-old guy on his way to work, am playing on a dedicated gaming device, and by extension clearly a socially awkward nerd? Should I know better at my age?

"Whenever I see someone playing a handheld on a train, it's usually a kid," Editor Tom Orry said when I questioned him on the subject. "It's very rare to see an adult playing on a dedicated handheld.

"I'd be much more comfortable watching a film on my tablet than playing a handheld game around other people, but that's more my problem than anyone else's".

Maybe that's the point entirely: That gaming is still seen by some as juvenile, children's entertainment. A medium that people will happily enjoy in the comfort of their own home, or play online with a tight group of friends or under relative anonymity, but are scared will damage their image when playing in public.


But that still doesn't answer my question as to why gaming on a multi-functional, lifestyle device appears any more appropriate than playing games on a dedicated handheld.

"There have been times when I've had Vita in my bag and not played it for fear of looking like a dweeb," Reviews Editor Martin Gaston added. "I would immediately think someone playing their Vita in public was a dork. I wouldn't have a problem playing games on my phone, though."

For balance, I questioned a couple of other non-gaming friends on the subject, both being the typical sort of professionals that you'd expect to find on the 7:38 into central London.

"People would probably say most people who play games in public are geeks," said one of them, adding that the person's look and fashion sense contributes fairly heavily to his overall opinion of the player.

"Looking scruffy with a handheld isn't a great look," he told me, saying that those dressed smartly wouldn't be deemed quite so 'geeky'.

A second friend, however (five years younger than the other it's perhaps worth pointing out), said that he "wouldn't really think twice" about someone playing on their 3DS or Vita in public.

"I don't think its particularly unacceptable," he added. "You get people doing all sorts on trains: full size laptops, DSs, Kindles, books, iPhone games...

"To be fair, most people probably just don't know what it is. Vitas are slightly weird looking, and they aren't particularly well known."

Fair point.

But no matter how much headway the industry has made in getting gaming accepted into the living room, there's a clear indication that dedicated handheld gaming still has a fair way to go until it's seen as a social normality. And given the state of the handheld market right now, there's a considerable risk that it never will be.