Now, you CAN take it with you

When I read, a few years ago, that the World Cyber Games (or was it the Cyberathlete Professional League? I can’t remember which, now…) would be including mobile (i.e. cell-phone) games among the various events, I was, to say the least, a bit sceptical. To be fair, though, at that time my perspective excluded console gamers from the so-called “hardcore” category and I viewed mobile gamers as an even lighter, more frivolous version of that. Well, there is no denying that mobile games are, generally, aimed at a more casual audience, but I am starting to think that even that may start to change in the not-too-distant future.

Mobile phones are becoming ever more sophisticated, with increasingly powerful processors that have, for quite some time now, even allowed rudimentary 3D graphics. A few months ago, I got to play One for a couple of weeks – a “beat’em’up” game for N-Gage that I found to be surprisingly advanced. Sure, it doesn’t, for example, have as many combos as, say, Tekken, but it’s still pretty impressive. Increasingly, of late, I’ve been getting impressed by mobile game releases – so long as I take them in their correct context.

mobile03.jpgObviously, it would not be fair to compare them to PC games – not only are the hardware specifications of a completely different order of magnitude, but the usage model is also vastly different. Mobile games are generally a time-killer for when you’re waiting for something, or sitting on the loo (although I will show you just now that this is not always the case!), rather than something you spend an afternoon, evening, or entire weekend doing. So these games need to be consumable in small sessions measured in minutes rather than hours, and need to be easy to come back to at any time. Interestingly, this same factor also makes mobile games less suited to multiplayer, as when you have a few minutes to play, you want to spend those minutes playing, not looking for other players. This is ironic, as given that cell-phones are first and foremost communication and connection tools, it would seem to follow that implementing multiplayer functionality would be a natural progression. Well, this is definitely coming about, but not to the degree that people may, at first, expect, and not necessarily in the expected manner, either. Instead of live ‘versus’ games and the like, the most common way for connectivity to be implemented consists of high-score leader-boards and “ghosts” – recorded games that players can pit themselves against.

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