Insert coin to play or download app to play?


For some, going through half a century in a lifetime marks a time to wind down and relax, and some would balk at the thought of being called a quinquagenarian, but yesterday marked the 50th birthday for the worlds first video game – Spacewar!


Imagine now if you will, a dark, dreary and stormy night in late 1962; The setting, an early computing lab at MIT, a handful of students queue up to use the car sized PDP-1 computer. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, to destroy the opposing players spaceship while avoiding the onslaught of futuristic torpedoes while navigating the star systems gravitational pull!


Despite my futile attempt to glorify the game, spacewar was not a graphical masterpiece nor did it have any audio, so why then is this game revered to this day? Perhaps it was the fact that it was a turning point for mankind, when they realised that computing was not only useful to design weapons of mass destruction and calculate the population census. This was the forefather of the dot-munching pacman and wave after wave of space invaders, or maybe the torpedo weapon was a precursor to Ken and Ryu’s fireball. Long before CounterStrike or Call of duty were but a figment of any ones imagination, this game gave birth and paved the way for the gaming industry.


And unlike any other industry before it, or I daresay any after it, the gaming and multimedia industry has changed drastically in this short time, unlike photography or the film industry which has considerably longer to mature, only a few weeks go by before games get bigger, better and flashier. No one can deny that the games that we enjoyed on our computers, consoles, and handheld consoles are now feeling the impact of the humble mobile phone. There is a huge selection of games available for the mobile platform and some classic genres are porting their titles to mobile phones. But why?


Mobile devices have a range of input sensors, such as physical buttons, touch sensitive screens, accelerometer, bluetooth, front facing camera’s and microphones; plus there is the whole geo-location and connectivity with wi-fi or 3G. There is a range of tools for games developers to come up with some interesting new and innovative ways to play with your phone.


First up, is the additional hardware being designed and commercialised for gaming on mobile phones. This is an up and coming sector and so I wont look at these products in details. Examples include, an arcade cabinet for your iPad or these cool accessories for your iPhone. There is also the option of adding a bluetooth game controller to your android handset via the device drivers available here.


Warning: Angry Birds will captivate you!

And as for the range of games available on the smartphone market at the moment, there are a whole load of them from almost mind-numbingly simple games to the most artistically designed 3D, fingertip damaging, anger inducing games. An all round favourite is the infamous Angry Birds game, available on almost all platforms in both paid for and free versions. An alternative to the bird franchise is this ‘angry birds crossover with godzilla’ called ‘Burn The City’, which I’m led to believe is also available on a variety of tablet devices too.


Another time zapping, screen damager is the ever popular Fruit Ninja games available on both android and iPhone, which will have you slicing and dicing virtual fruit for hours on end while you try to hit the time freeze banana or the bonus banana to maximise your high score.


A hack and slash withouth the any bloodshed...

One of our favourite friday afternoon (or is that every afternoon?) office game, Bejewelled, makes an entry to the iPhone and Android platforms. This makes an interesting point about the transition for many game developers to the mobile market. EA has a large selection of games ported or remade for a multitude of platforms, examples include Tetris, The Sims, Worms, Fifa and Need for Speed – and its not just EA other games studio’s are also on the bandwagon; I wont link to them here, but it is worth searching the appropriate app market for these apps.


Another popular desktop game, gone mobile is the popular mine building game, Minecraft. This see’s you building a blocky world on your own or in a multi-player setting, I’ve never seen the appeal of Minecraft and have stayed away, but for the hordes of minecraft players staying away from this addictive game for a short while is akin to blasphemy.


Jaw dropping graphics from Infinity Blade 2

Perhaps as a test of graphical prowess some game developers are aiming for the high end market, the iPhones seen success in the form of Infinity Blade and now Infinity Blade 2, there is also the awe inspiring Metal Storm series of games and finally for speed freaks there’s the heart stopping Real Racing game. This isn’t surprising, given the graphics processing power available in the new iPhone 4S.
Android developers too have proved that they don’t sit on their laurels either by creating some amazing 3D games, some of which play like a breeze on the latest dual core devices available. Heavy Gunner will appeal to fans of mecha type games, while Winds of Steel is designed for anyone looking for a aerial dog fight or any other aviation enthusiast; other graphically intensive games include the likes of Raging Thunder 2, ToonWarz and Gun Bros.



Heavy Gunner squeezes every drop of performance out of your processor


Given the powerful capabilities of these small devices, they are able to process and display some amazing 3D graphics and as we get smaller and faster chips for our phones, perhaps exceeding the current dual core, into triple or quad core chips – we can expect a lot more from our mobiles and tablets in the near  future. This article touches briefly on the current state of mobile gaming, and as such it doesn’t cover every game or genre and for the ones we mentioned there isn’t a lot of details included. This is hardly possible without extending this article to be several pages long, but we hope that this article has shown you a small selection of what is currently possible and where the industry is headed.


I would like to do a detailed article covering the different gaming genres available for both android and iOS platforms so if there is a game or app that you would like to see mentioned or reviewed, or any mobile gaming issues you feel about why not use the comments below to share them with us?


By Husman Ahmed, Justsayplease


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