The explosion in mobile gaming

Daniel Wren

Here at Vada, we love a good game. We have a whole section called Geek, which is dedicated to games, comics and technology – and it’s one of our most popular sections. We also love mobile phones – and frankly, I can’t live without one. But the two are now overlapping in exciting and accessible ways, with the result being a revival of some of our favourite games and more people gaming (and more often) than ever before.

Games have been big business for a while, so that isn’t really the extraordinary thing. What is extraordinary is how those games are reaching us and how easy it is to create new games too. According to Fortune, the gaming market is estimated to reach $111 billion this year. Meanwhile, Newzoo anticipates that 2015 will be the year that mobile gaming gains a bigger chunk (at $30.3 billion) of the global market than console gaming (at $26.4 billion).

Frankly, the explosion of gaming on mobile phones can’t have escaped anyone. In the past, people primarily played on consoles. Handheld gaming units were also popular for a time – in a market which was dominated by the Gameboy and more recently the Nintendo DS. But as with the decline of mp3 players and iPods, people began to realise that there’s no point in carrying multiple expensive items if you can roll them all into one super-cool, super-sleek device. We’re already paying for mobile phones, so why not get a phone that can play games too, right?

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The gaming industry latched onto the explosion in mobile phone use and has taken full advantage of the range of top features in even the most basic handsets. This has allowed the giants of the gaming world to create innovative ways to refresh their markets, while the relative ease of creating new games for smartphones means that even start-ups and indie outfits can have some success putting out games for mass markets.

And there really is diversity out there. Long gone are the days of playing Snake – although you can play that, too, if you want. People are now playing games while they’re on the bus, while they’re in the bath and even while they’re on the toilet. From Candy Crush Saga to FarmVille to Clash of Clans to card games to casinos to Connect 4, you can play it all.

What’s great about this is that not only can you play new and exciting games you’ve never heard of, you can play old ones too – games that have perhaps been accumulating dust in your loft because you don’t have the relevant adaptors to plug in that old SNES or Sega Megadrive or Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

I want to be able to play games like I could when I was a kid. In a world where we work harder and longer, and where a commute becomes a daily battle just to get into the office, adding a little bit of fun – and reviving those memories of a time before bills and office shirts and deadlines – is essential to urban survival.

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As a kid, I played games all the time. I played Monopoly, Risk and Scrabble all the time. Now these games – or games very much like them – are available on Google Play and the App Store.

I used to love playing blackjack and poker with my grandmother, and now I can play cards on my phone. I used to love Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat, and now I can play it on my phone.

Most recently I’ve even started playing tabletop roleplaying games again using play-by-post, dice roll apps and online character avatar generators. Retro, indeed, but the use of sites like RPoL and the the fanmade RPoL Notifier app means that I can do all the things I had to do with pen and paper in order to play my old-school 90s Storyteller games like Changeling: The Dreaming, Wraith: The Oblivion and Vampire: The Masquerade. Others play Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, RIFTS and Big Eyes, Small Mouth.

The love for retro games, in fact, means the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is throwing its own retro games exhibition, while Leeds Libraries have a citywide Adventures in Minecraft programme and Retro Gaming Weekend in September. Everybody’s getting in on the gaming action.

There’s something exciting happening when everyone is playing games and we can partially thank mobile phones for that. Games bring us together, encourage us to think and bring a playful attitude to life. There’s always scope for more play – so what do you say, shall I see you online?

About Daniel Wren

Vada Magazine staff writer. Interested in travel, news, politics and dating.