As a kid, I was always a nanny’s girl. I spent many weekends at her flat, and it was my happy place. However, it was quite boring as she often just watched teleshopping channels, and there was nothing to do at her house. That was until I was gifted a GameBoy Advance SP for Christmas by my Mum.

The GameBoy came everywhere with me, and it was very much a staple at my Nan’s house. Finally, I had something to do other than watching QVC and Gems TV. My Nan was happy to see me happy and was glad I also finally had a source of entertainment.

Although it was my Mum who bought me the GameBoy, it’s my Nan who I associate it with the most, and it helps keep her memory alive for me. This small handheld device anchors me to nostalgia and good memories, and when my old one broke after fifteen years, I simply had to buy another.

Lying Awake Playing Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot and The Sims: Urbz in the City were staples for me growing up. When staying at my Nan’s, I would share the bed with her. She had the ability to fall asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow, but I was often not so lucky. As a result, I would spend many nights wide awake playing my Gameboy. Thank God for the backlit screen!

Sometimes, my Nan would turn over and watch me play and ask me what I was doing in the game. I would tell her everything, and she would reply with utmost enthusiasm. Whenever I was stuck on a level due to a puzzle, she would try her hardest to solve it for me. This was even the case with Tomb Raider (1996). My Nan would always find a way to get involved with my gaming, even if she had no clue what was happening. Despite having no game knowledge at all, she would always surprise me and somehow manage to guide me through the levels. It gave me a real sense of shock, but also pride, knowing that my nan was nerdy, too.

For that reason alone, whenever I would play my GameBoy after her passing in 2012, it would remind me of her. That said, it took me many years to return to playing the GameBoy and even the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS that she bought for me. Every time I would even so much as glance at the handheld, it would rip open the wound I struggled to close for many years of my adolescence.

When I did eventually return to playing my beloved SP, it was painful. But it brought waves of nostalgia and joy along with the pain as I remembered all those nights I lay awake next to my Nan, the sound on low and the screen dimmed to ensure I didn’t wake her up. I remembered times when she couldn’t sleep herself and would ask me questions about my game, and I remembered how many times she told me, “I’m so glad you have something to keep you company while you’re here.” A phrase I heard often.

Replacing the Broken

Eventually, the battery in the back of the GameBoy expanded, and I had to say goodbye. It was hard to let go of it, but it was a safety risk, and I knew that it had to be disposed of. I cried more than I probably should have. I have plenty of other items that belonged to my Nan, so why was this one so important?

Years passed since I had disposed of the broken console, and I missed it dearly. I was getting recommendations for GameBoy games on eBay, and I just knew I had to get another. My original GameBoy Advance SP had had the tribal design on the front, and it was imperative that I replaced it with one of the same design. Luckily, I found one in the most unusual place: linked to me by my Mum on MusicMagpie, a refurbished tribal GameBoy Advance SP. When it arrived, it was as if it was brand new! It felt like Christmas Day all over again.

I spent hours playing the games I grew up with, overcome with waves of nostalgia and flashbacks to my childhood and all those nights I laid beside my Nan, my best friend. Sure, my hands are bigger now, so they cramped up while playing on the tiny device, but it was so worth it just to be able to experience the pure, unadulterated joy that I did when I was ten.

The GameBoy Advance SP will always hold a special place in my heart for how it allowed me to solidify my bonds with my family members, including my Mum and sister. Most importantly, though, this new console allowed me to relive my childhood by playing the same games on the same cartridges that I used all those years ago. I miss my Nan every day, but I’m so glad to have this tiny console to refresh my memory of all the good times I shared with her. It was the best £30 I could have ever spent.