20 Jan 2015
Mobile Games and the Console Gamer: How I’ve Come to Appreciate the Mobile Game
I’ve got a confession to make. Before starting at Fedeen in late November, I’d never so much as given a mobile game the time of day. I didn’t view my phone as a potential source of entertainment. I think it came down to a productivity fixation, but more significantly, a willful ignorance of the medium. If I was out somewhere and bored enough to fumble around on my phone, I’d be better off reading the news, or worse, trying to increase the number of people who followed me on Instagram.
If I’d carved out a solid multi-hour block of free time, and if I felt that I’d spent enough time on reading, drawing, and other more “worthwhile” hobbies to earn some gaming, I’d start up the Xbox and lose myself in whatever action RPG I was fumbling through at the time. I considered myself an immersion gamer. Storylines or GTFO. That guy who submits a 5-page backstory to his DM when beginning a new tabletop campaign? Yeah, that’s me. Video games weren’t something to be played for an amount of time stated in minutes.
So when the offer came to work at Fedeen, I was primarily excited, but also a bit apprehensive. I didn’t respect mobile games. I was eager to work in gaming as a whole, but mobile games to me were always something for people who didn’t enjoy reading.
I’m glad to say that after six weeks in the industry, my impressions are changing for the better.
There’s a type of brilliance in mobile game design that I don’t imagine one has to consider as heavily with console games. There’s an art to designing a game that’s engaging enough to draw players in, but also one that can be played for just minutes at a time. At its core, a mobile game needs to be something its players can dive into immediately at any time, and for any length of time – both while waiting two minutes for the bus to arrive and also while riding it for half an hour or more to one’s destination.
And with free-to-play games, the game must be designed so that it can be beaten for free – enjoyably, one would hope – but it should also subtly encourage players to spend in ways that feel less like an imposition and more like common sense. It’s fascinating to discover and analyze the myriad ways each game approaches this objective, and to hear the genuine enthusiasm of my colleagues when they’ve made such a realization.
As our primary English content writer, I’ve had the opportunity to shape the characters of our games and write their dialogue to emphasize their diverse personalities. The fact that a game is meant to be played with the fingertips does not preclude it from having creative depth, with a robust storyline and engaging, well-developed characters. Not to mention the obstacle of ensuring the game’s interface at once provides for the full range of required actions while also remaining convenient and intuitive for fingertip play.
So here I am, a month and a half later. By no means do I understand the medium yet, but I can definitely say that I’ve come to appreciate it. And I’ve made some personal progress as well. The number of mobile games on my phone has increased from zero to one. It’s a start.