Mobile Gaming?

Could the next wave of gaming's future be the handheld craze? Is this the nail in the coffin for consoles? Can the handheld revolution alter the home gaming landscape much as the home gaming console decimated the arcades 25 years ago?

August 6, 2011

Mobile gaming?

(Note: "Words with Friends" isn't available on BB... my WordRival username is Phlume. Invite me to play...)

As I sat back and played Word Rival on my Blackberry this evening I couldn't help but wonder... Is Mobile gaming going to take over the home console system much like the consoles destroyed the arcade?

Apple's iPhone 4I look at all of the apps and games that are available across the board for Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, DS, PSP, and the like. It is truly amazing at how cool these things have gotten! They are beautiful, powerful, and way better than some of the AAA titles that came out even 5 years ago. I remember about 10 years back, sitting down with my Nokia and it's black and green screen, charting a course for my snake to traverse in order to eat the next apple. I thought it was cool that I could play Tetris on that same phone... even though it was as slow as all hell, not very challenging, and hard to play because of the screen size. Flash forward a decade and you have touch screens, analog joysticks, multiple buttons and full 1080p... ON A HAND HELD! Remember the Gameboy; the classic "Brick"...Before that came out all I had for a hand held game was a crazy orange and black "spelling bee" device that helped me learn difficult 5th and 6th grade spelling with word games. I never imagined as I sat with that little speak and spell wanna-"bee" device that the gaming community would grow into a huge mobile empire.
Sony's Playstation Vita
When I reflect back on the 80's and the arcade games we stood at for hours I thought of the home VCS as a silly amusement past time we used to tide us over to the next visit to the Dream Machine, or Funspot. It's hard not to look at the mobile community as creating a similar dichotomy within the gaming industry; The home system vs. the hand-held.

As microprocessors get faster and smaller, we are seeing more and more computing power being placed into smaller and stronger devices, which in turn get placed into the hands of younger and younger consumers. Both of my children, 4 and 5, constantly ask me if they can play a game on my phone. I watch them as they fumble with the device and press the number pad and directional pad to navigate around the screen in whatever game they pull up. It's cute... but scary. When I was 5 I had a joystick and one button. Here they are with the Vita at their door step, the Wii U on it's way, augmented reality and the 3DS available and a plethora of games on phones and pads everywhere. Which makes me wonder... Will the home systems be shoved away for more powerful portable ones?

As we look to see the next gen of consoles scheduled to be released within the next 12-18 months, one wonders if this will be theSamsung's Galaxy S2 last ones dedicated to be hooked up to a TV. Perhaps the ones we use today already ARE the last ones to be tethered to a tube? Will video games pick up and go mobile entirely? Will we ever have a need for cluttered living rooms with controllers and cables stuffed into drawers with cartridges and disks laying about to collect dust? Or are we seeing a shift in the paradigm that gaming systems are to be kept within the home?

What do YOU think? As I close out this final thought on a long week and head into the weekend I ask you: Are these the final round of systems that will stay within the house? Will we see a "changing of the guards" so to speak when it comes to how games are delivered to the masses? Tell me your thoughts. Share your insight and views.

Until next post... happy gaming y'all.


Chad is an Adjunct Faculty member teaching video game design in Boston, MA. His school web site is He can be reached for comment there.

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