You know what I see standing in line at the supermarket—aside from the self-image corrupting magazines in juxtaposition with candy bars—kids on iPhones. Parents hand their children an iPad or an iPhone to prevent them from having a meltdown over a toy they couldn’t have because what kid needs toys when playing Angry Birds. They’re too busy snagging three stars on all the levels mommy and daddy failed at to kick up a fuss.
I once saw, in the upstairs hall-way of my college, all these kids from ten to fifteen years old go to learn how to play the piano or the piccolo because their parents are convinced that they had conceived a prodigy. While waiting for the music room door to open and their white bearded music teacher to welcome them in, the kids were playing on tablets or smart phones. Once, when I saw two kids experiencing the infinite folds of their imagination in Minecraft Pocket Edition, I stopped to say, “that’s a great game guys,” with a thumbs up. And they looked up at me in bewilderment. I fled in awkwardness because I didn’t want to alarm any parents who are always on the lookout for pedophiles these days.
These kids are forming memories that one day they will look back on like gamers of today do. They will think back to the nostalgia they built with their friends in Minecraft Pocket Edition, just like how I think back to exploding the gigantic heads of enemies like balloons in Golden Eye. Nostalgia is the force that continuously drives me to seek out a game that will re-invoke the astonishment of watching my friend expertly defeat Ganon in Ocarina of Time, or to re-experience the wonder of a seemingly endless setting in World of Warcraft.
The defeat of Ganon: that moment was a shared experience that I can talk about with my friend even to this day. Perhaps mobile games are even easier to share because it is so easy to hand a tablet to a friend or family member to try and beat a challenging level in League of Evil. Mobile saves people from the creeping madness in a stuffy hotel room. Simply bring out 30 Second Life, and everybody is distracted from the torments of zero privacy as they try to become a dinosaur in disguise after time travelling.
Lets not ignore the facts: developers are noticing the explosion of indie game development on the mobile platform. Take, for example, Square Enix’s bold statement that they would focus their future efforts on the mobile platform. The popularity some games have received such as Angry Birds (a movie, board games, spin offs) is phenomenal. The mobile market appears today to be the path to riches. There is also the fact that every person has their nose engulfed by the neon light of their smart-phone. In a movie theater, no doubt. During a lame date, for sure. Escaping the noise of city transit, always.
And haven’t gamers become fed up with disappointment after disappointment, anti-consumerist beliefs, and broken nostalgia that the console wars have stirred in gamers hearts and minds. Isn’t it about time that a new device pushes the video game industry into unexplored territory to bring back innovation? Take Limbo for example: a port with intuitive and invisible controls. What about Deus Ex: The Fall, which blends FPS controls with adventure games tap to move style without sacrificing a clutter less screen. And then there is Badlands which can have up to four players surround an iPad, racing to the finish line of a gorgeous post-apocalyptic world by simply tapping the screen.
Mobile is the future of video games: the platform that will raise the industry from its slump—or perhaps it will resurrect the industry after the inevitable fall that I’m convinced is coming. Mobile will rise like a machine from the fire and corpses of forgotten consoles, into swirling ash and sparks. As a monolith, mobile will lead the gaming industry into an age of originality and innovation once again and where the gamer is fairly treated as the back-bone of the culture; not as a means to make a buck.