“Here we are, largely ignoring the best and brightest on one of the most ubiquitous platforms in the world because… why? Are we afraid to expand our horizons the tiniest bit? If, as alleged journalists – people who are paid to uncover new, interesting, and relevant facts and ideas – we can’t even be bothered to pick up a different rectangle than the ones we’ve grown accustomed to, then I’m forced to ask: what the hell are we doing?”
This is Nathan Grayson on VG247 last week talking about the attitude towards mobile games in much of the established games media, both online and offline. His argument is that mobile games – casual, social, F2P, whatever, he uses iOS games as a particular example – are given short shrift by the core media. They are dealt with mainly if the mobile title has a link back to its PC/console original, so that journalists can get back to their comfort zone.
This means that games like Angry Birds, Minecraft and Draw Something, to name just the most obvious ones, only come to the attention of the media when they are already a runaway word of mouth success. To my mind, a good iOS/Android/Facebook game is a miracle of design and coding skill in a quite different way to the skills needed to exploit the comparatively massive processing/graphics and audio capabilities of the leading consoles and PC.
The idea that mobile/casual/social games are inferior to triple-A (or even let’s face it, single-A or B-plus) PC or console titles because they ‘lack depth’, or can be easily picked up and put down, is a persistent one. And yet, as a player, that is precisely why I for one will turn to an iOS game or a phone game – this week, I have been mainly playing Crazy Horses and Draw Something.
The days when I can sit down with a game, taking an hour or two to get into it, setting aside a three-hour stretch, say, to build up my character and experience in order to level up are few and far between. A train journey, a ten-minute wait in the car for the kids, a half hour after dinner, these are the games-playing windows of the, erm, more ‘mature’ gamer.
Christina Erskine, senior account manager at Bastion, has been playing and writing about games for 25 years and thinks the touch-screen interface is a great improvement on using the arrow keys on the numeric keypad. Tell her what you think on Twitter.