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Are Mobile Phone Games Addictive?

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 27 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Are Mobile Phone Games Addictive?

Mobile games can certainly be addictive but as a much maligned sector of the gaming industry, gamers have on the whole been finding them very easy to resist.

The Enormous Potential of Mobile Games

When it first appeared in 1997 as a pre-installed game on selected Nokia models, the simple yet addictive ‘Snake’ effectively founded the mobile game – video games played on a mobile phone. The reptile’s blocky adventures mesmerised millions of idle mobile users, from kids to grannies, and in doing so offered a spark of the massive potential the mobile phone offered as a gaming platform.

With consoles, customers must make a financial commitment by purchasing what is a reasonably expensive piece of kit. The magic of the mobile is that hundreds of millions of users already have the hardware; they’re just waiting for the games.

Unrealised Potential of Mobile Phone Games

However, well over a decade has now passed since Snake first slithered onto our handsets, and mobile games are still struggling to realise their enormous potential.

The mobile phones of today are massively more advanced than the Nokias that first introduced mobile gaming, and with their powerful 3D graphics chips, for example, they have significantly narrowed the technological gap with dedicated handheld consoles. However, this doesn’t seem to have made much difference; at least not yet.

Simple but Addictive Gameplay

In fact some believe this continual push for amazing graphics and cutting edge technology is a hindrance rather than a step forward. The introduction of 3D graphics to mobile games, for instance, was met with enormous scepticism by gaming experts.

Why try to compete with the consoles when they’ll always be streets ahead and, more pertinently, when a video game doesn’t actually need to look amazing to be fun and addictive? After all, Snake was considered primeval back in 1997 but that didn’t put people off. Few dismiss the addictive classics of Solitaire or Tetris as old hat either.

Games Not Just for the Kids but Everyone

There is still hope for the future of mobile games beyond rehashing old classics and chasing the coattails of the consoles. Many experts believe the way forward is by tapping into the unique advantages and capabilities of the phone, rather than trying to push forward its limitations. By this they refer to the ever widening gaming demographic – the mobile is owned by a formidable array of potential gamers who would never think of buying a console – and onset of mass multiplayer gaming.

The Possibilities are Endless

Without the limitations of each player having to purchase the hardware, mobile phone multiplayer gaming is a potential goldmine for the mobile games industry. The possibilities are endless. Ideas have been put forward whereby mobile multiplayer interactions can be connected together without the players even tackling the same sort of game. This means puzzlers don’t have to play with puzzlers but can link with grizzled shoot-em-up fans.

Mobile games also have the enviable opportunity of utilising their inbuilt mobile phone hardware, such as the camera. Future games could use cameras to help make players interact more with their surroundings, and increase awareness of them, rather than shut them off completely.

At present, the masses are not addicted to mobile games, but given imaginative investment in their undeniable potential, it might not be long before mobile games become more addictive than mobile texting.

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