Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mobile Gaming Safari

Life has been busy the past few weeks, partly because of some unexpected travel. I have a hard time getting things done on the road; I find it hard to concentrate on anything. This past trip, I decided to give myself a little mission: I would keep an eye out for video game-related stuff as I made my journey. The results are over at PopMatters.

I was a bit surprised not to see many traditional gaming devices, but I suppose those are the signs of the times. I do not envy those in charge of Nintendo's 3DS or Sony's NGP projects. Based on my experience, it is getting increasingly difficult to convince people to carry and use single-purpose gaming devices. In the era of smartphones and on-demand entertainment, the once convenient action of reaching into one's bag for a Game Boy has become more of a chore.

Perhaps it was the travel fatigue or maybe I'm just becoming less of a grumpy traditionalist, but I'm starting to see the allure of Facebook games. Done correctly, I can see them realizing the potential of the Dreamcast VMU. While they might never offer the rich experience of a full retail game, they can act as supplements to a game's systems and fiction. For developers unlocking the secret of compelling, ethical games will be huge: I lost count of how many people I passed browsing Facebook on their phones. For players, quality Facebook games can offer a taste of a new franchise or supplement an existing series. I can't speak to its quality, but Dragon Age: Legends is an interesting game from a theoretical perspective. A game with traditional RPG systems that ties into a larger experience is definitely more appealing to me than whiling away the hours on a never-ending virtual farm.

I'll be interested to see what the next five years have in store for the mobile gaming scene. How much of the market will Nintendo and Sony retain? Apple seems to be in a strong position with the core gamers, but they just tip-toeing around the sleeping giant that is Facebook? In any case, it's a jungle out there.

1 comment:

  1. I'm planning on finally getting some portable gaming done this year.
    However, this will probably be an exclusive sitting on the couch (or some tatami or whatever) experience.
    I can imagine that quite a lot of people don't feel like showing their "toy" to everybody around them in public whereas Facebook or an Iphone might be more socially accepted these days. It's interesting that even the PSP is probably still considered a toy even after Sony trying so hard to establish it as a multimedia device.

    Personally I think I'll stick to traditional gaming, there's enough stuff out there, the PSP has a surprisingly deep library and funnily I didn't even think about facebook games when I planned my personal gaming safari for this year. Seems like I'm still in a very traditional mindset but for know I'm kind of okay with it and I really don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.