While gaming has been around for a fair few decades now, it is only relatively recently that being able to ‘game on the go’ was an option available to almost anyone. Originally gaming was something that happened in arcades or possibly on a table one game machine in a youth club or pub. The first home computers and consoles were seen as revolutionary as they brought the arcade experience into the private domain. Gamers could also buy a variety of games for their device rather than the dedicated offering found on arcade-style machines.
Mobile gaming took off with the introduction of Nintendo’s Gameboy, a dedicated pocket console offering a range of games on cartridges. Early mobile phones had the simplest of games like Snake, reminiscent of the earliest video games like Pong – just a 2D graphic moving across the screen. However, what changed everything was the invention of the smartphone with its large touch screen, hyperconnectivity and superior screen resolution for viewing the state-of-the-art graphics.
The smartphone, which most of us now carry around with us, has processing power beyond the imagination of the earliest game developers. As a result, we can now all play our favourite titles wherever we are. Games essentially fall into four broad categories: – action, mass multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), arcade and casino games.
While action and MMORPG games have been developed for mobile, the general consensus is that they do not give the same experience as the home version. For lovers of a game like FIFA, the criticism is that using a touch screen rather than a controller for all the action does not deliver the same accuracy or speed. Players of mobile versions of Fortnite say that the graphic quality is not as realistic or as in-depth as the home-based version. These are big, involved games that require concentration. The mobile version of the game is acceptable but never quite as good. They are a good substitute if you have a long journey or are away from home for an extended period.
Mobile games come into their own for short bursts of excitement when people are out and about – maybe waiting for a train or a friend to turn up. This is where the arcade and casino games come into their own. A game like Angry Birds was specifically designed to be played on a mobile device. Simple, colourful, and fun – the aim is no more complicated than shooting birds at evil pigs. Certainly, the original mobile game to go viral it is, arguably, still one of the very best. It led the way for the myriad of similar games that are now downloadable for iOS, Android, and other mobile devices.
Ballz, meanwhile, is a fun, mesmerizing timewaster. Similar to the popular arcade game Breakout, the player has a selection of blocks to break with their collection of balls. Other great names with enduring appeal include Candy Crush Saga and Subway Surfers.
For those who like the thrill of gambling, online casinos have a wide variety of games available. As they have become more popular, many of the operators have developed mobile versions of their platforms so that their slot sites can be accessed on the go. The choice of games is enormous and covers everything from pub fruit machines to Vegas-style slots.
No round-up of mobile gaming would be complete without mentioning the latest viral phenomena. Wordle and games of a similar nature have taken the world by storm. Designed to be accessed daily in short bursts, the player is given six chances to guess a five-letter word randomly. If the player has the correct letter in the right spot, it shows up in green. A valid letter in the wrong place is yellow, and a letter not included appears in grey. People are encouraged to post their answers on social media platforms. The concept has taken social gaming and word puzzles to a whole new level.
Photograph by Torsten Dettlaff