The first mobile game actually came out in 1994. It was a version of Tetris that ran on the Hagenuk MT-2000 device. Soon afterwards, Nokia came out with Snake on some of their handhelds. Boy, have times changed since then. Nowadays, you’re no longer limited to the pre-installed games on the phone and you can probably find hundreds of different versions of Tetris in their app stores. Multiplayer games are the norm and you can take advantage of different hardware in the phone like GPS for location identification and accelerometers for motion acceleration detection to further enhance the gaming world. And of course there are the richer graphics that need to be mentioned, too. Add on some even newer gadgets like Google’s Project Glass, and the sky’s the limit for what’s next in mobile tech and gaming.
Early mobile games were very limited. You might have fed a pet on the phone, but it was your pet and nobody else knew if it starved because you were ignoring it. Now, you’re not just taking care of one pet, but a whole pet store or farm, and everyone sees the health of your brood or the crops you grow. High scores are now global and not just how well you’ve personally done. With services like Moai Direct, you can cloud enable your games in minutes, including in-game message delivery and achievements to reward and motivate players. Need help defeating that dragon? Just team up with friends to attack all at once, and he’ll be gone in no time.
Living with only pre-installed games is so 1990s. Nowadays, just about everyone has an app store to add on games and other applications to your phones. There are app stores from the likes of operators like Verizon, platform providers like Apple, and third-party stores like Amazon. Now, if there was only an easy way to remove all the junk that the operators think you want on the phone, we’d be in heaven.
The first mobile games weren’t much more then black and white with maybe some shades of gray. Screen size was small–really small. Here, too, the current trend is bigger screens with higher resolutions. The display on the iPhone 4s is 960-by-640-pixel resolution, better than early desktops that offered amazing graphics in games like Doom. The current phones actually hold more computing power than that which was used to get the Apollo rockets to the moon. And with all this power and graphics, mobile games are better than many desktop games. You have to check out the latest in Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) from the likes of Qualcomm and others. How much longer until we see holograms fighting each other like in Star Wars?
Mobile games aren’t just limited to a four-way up-down/left-right pad and select button on the phone. Beyond the graphics, phones includes cameras, accelerometers, GPS and, of course, Wi-Fi connectivity. Nearly all these hardware controls are getting used in most of today’s games. Want to feed a virtual pet? Take a picture of a real one, or perhaps snap a QR Code to get an in-game resource needed. Want to drive a car? Steering is now done by rotating the device. Just don’t spike the phone like a football if you score a touchdown. Beyond existing hardware, Google’s Project Glass introduces wearable technology that should take the gaming world by storm. Imagine wearing a pair of glasses that shows a computer screen just above the normal sight line. And you notice being stalked in a virtual manhunt game you are playing. No more returning to the game hours later to find yourself dead. Just attack then and there, before they can.
The old gaming consoles, like the Xbox, are becoming the next dinosaurs. Mobile devices have gotten so powerful and with games free or under a dollar each, nobody wants to spend the money on a dedicated device with $50 games. Available hardware on the phones has driven the mobile gaming world forward. Motion control, location identification, live connections and super-high resolution graphics are here now. The future of mobile gaming looks bright and yesterday’s science fiction is becoming a reality now.