I learned to be a gamer with a proverbial gun to my head. If you’re going to be in the tech business, you’d better learn your way around a gaming machine. But nothing prepared me for my hands-on session with Vita yesterday.

Vita is SONY’s newest hand held gaming device. What’s unique about it is the variety of play experiences that you can have. Imagine using a front and rear touchscreen to play a game. Vita’s rear touchscreen takes up almost the entire back surface of the system. Next to the front touchscreen (it’s an eye-catching 5-inch OLED), there are the usual Playstation buttons as well as the two joystick controllers. Vita has front and rear cameras, tactile feedback, and a whopping 6-axis motion sensor system that controls the gyroscope and accelerometer.

I played Little Deviants, Little Big Planet and Sound Shapes – three games scheduled for holiday release.

Each game required using the Playstation in a totally different way, which drove me batty but may thrill the true gamer.  Little Deviants stymied me because you used the rear screen to control the terrain’s motion – not your little deviant. In other words there was this little guy rolling around a landscape that I had to create waves in for him to move. Some of the levels involved augmented reality where I used my body to site and shoot. Little Big Planet used more of the traditional Playstation buttons like my great X and triangle combo.

Connectivity is inbreed with the Vita. In addition to WiFi and 3G, many of the games will take advantage of community-boosting activities like “Near” which identifies other players near you, and “Party” which lets you chat while playing.

At $250, Vita offers an unbelievably rich experience – though as many of us know, too many riches can sometimes drive you crazy. For gamers who want to take immersive gaming to the next step it’s Viva La Vita.

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