Dan Kang

The State of Mobile Gaming

I love the games on the App Store. They’re addicting, cheap, and keep me sane on long train rides. As I continually find and install new games, one thing has struck me: these games are incredibly simple.

As someone who used to spend hours playing flash games, I’m used to the short nature of these kinds of games and the instant gratification that they bring. They’re usually centered around high scores (Fruit Ninja, Temple Run), advancing through various levels (Angry Birds), and traditional games with the magic social sauce mixed in (Draw Something, Zynga games).

But there’s a whole other class of games that’s currently being completely neglected. I think most of us can remember hunching over our Gameboys trying to level up our Charmanders (all of you who chose Bulbasaur can suck it) while trying to avoid all the damn Rattatas hiding in the grass. I poured hours and hours into that game, avoiding the wrath of my furious grandma by hiding under the blanket and stifling my excitement when the screen lit up as my Pokemon evolved. And for those of you who were more into catching fish and decorating your homes, I’m sure you remember Animal Crossing. I still have fond memories of hanging my impressive catches in the museum and paying off my ever-increasing debt to that crook Tom Nook. I even miss that stupid mole that showed up to yell at you every time you quit your game without saving.

As great as the single player gameplay was for these games, there was nothing like playing with friends. Pitting your beloved team of Pokemon against your friends’ was probably more stressful than is healthy for a growing kid. And in Animal Crossing, I loved having people visit my town and then returning the visits to see how they decorated their towns. What good was planting all those flowers and fruit trees if you couldn’t even show it off? The social aspect took these games to a whole new level.

Smartphones have made everyone and their grandmother into a casual gamer, and I’m honestly disappointed that companies like Nintendo have not taken advantage of that. Imagine playing Pokemon or Animal Crossing on a smartphone with the social aspects baked in and fully integrated with the game. In Pokemon, you would be able to trade your Pokemon with whomever you wanted and go on co-op adventures with friends. In Animal Crossing, you could live with your friends in a virtual home and work on paying off your rent together. These are just simple ideas for games that already exist; I can only imagine what innovative concepts developers can cook up. The possibilities are endless.