In the past video games and the people who played them had acquired a negative stigma of being mainly young men as well as being an expensive hobby. Looking at the current generation video games consoles (Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U) we see that even the Wii U, the cheapest console, starts at three hundred dollars. This in turn has created a sort of barrier for someone who is interested in video games as a hobby. Though in recent times the evolution of the cellphone and similar mobile technologies has brought the world an entirely new medium on which to play video games. As mobile technologies have grown more powerful, smaller, and made a move towards touch screens over the keypad we have found ourselves with a very mobile utility device that doubles as a video game console should the user desire to play games.
One of the major mobile technologies to lead this change was the iPhone released in 2007 from Apple which, at its release, did not have any method to add more applications onto the stock device. It wouldn’t be until 2008 that Apple would release their App store and allow for the iPhone and iPod Touch users to download any of the third party apps Apple had approved (Consalvo 2013, pg. 188). This idea of creating a marketplace for users to browse and buy apps was a major change in the way that mobile devices were used. Previously most users were accustomed to the idea of buying a device and having it preloaded with the manufacturer’s stock programs. Giving the user the option to customize and change their devices programs streamlined the process of mobile gaming by making it much easier to play mobile games.
Although the iPhone was certainly not the first device to offer games on the device it was easily the most successful in the United States at providing its user base a plethora of options when it came to applications and likewise increased the amount of games people were willing to play. Unfortunately for Apple, the iPhone is the major phone of use only in the United States but luckily for users there are other contenders such as Google and their Google Play store for Android phones. While the ability to download games easily and quickly onto the phone has increased, the average person is generally not seeking an incredible gaming experience but rather a simple and entertaining game to fill time gaps (Consalvo 2013, pg. 193). It is with this argument that Mia Consalvo makes similar points to another reading written by James Katz and Sophia Krzys Acord about how people view the different groups when video games are involved.
As mentioned earlier video game playing, or gaming, generally carries with it a negative stigma such that most people would not consider themselves gamers even if they play a few games. Specifically most consider computer or console games to be the main way that these “gamers” play different video games almost not even considering mobile technologies as a main source of video games. One of the main distinctions Katz and Acord make is that within each different variation between people you see different ways those people play games using gender, age, race/ethnicity as personal descriptions and then gaming habits/preferences to determine the different types of games and play types these people prefer (Katz and Acord 2008, pg. 404-406). One of the main things that these pieces of information tell us is that people have very different preferences in mobile technologies. For instance in the United States most people have a preference to play simple arcade games such as Tetris vs European gamers favoring action based multiplayer games or that males are generally more likely to download many different games where as women are more likely to get involved deeply in a single game. These ideas illustrate how diverse a market for mobile games can be.
These readings are focusing on different points with Mia Consalvo focusing on how the iPhone specifically has affected the growth of mobile technologies where as James Katz and Sophia Acord focus on the different demographics of people playing mobile games and their preferences. The two arguments talk about different topics but both articles clearly lead to a conclusion that mobile based games are rapidly growing albeit for many different reasons. One of the biggest reasons for this is the general belief that mobile technologies are incredibly widespread and regarded as some as their most important belongings. When leaving their home most people will grab keys, wallet, and a cellphone. It could be argued that to own a cellphone by a certain age is a social norm and it is because of this that mobile games in general have grown into a social norm. As application stores grow and become saturated with millions of games it would be pretty unlikely for someone with even a remote interest in a mobile game to be unable to find one they personally enjoy.
Following the entire the growth of mobile technologies it seems to only make sense that with it the applications, more specifically mobile games, will grow with them. Once the younger generation has time to not only grow up with these technologies but also for the older generation to also adopt them it is only a matter of time for the entire user base of mobile technologies to eventually either adopt mobile games or at least try them out.
Katz, J., & Acord, S. (2008). Mobile Games and Entertainment. Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, 402-418.
Consalvo, M. (2012). Slingshot to Victory: Games, Play, and the iPhone. Moving Data: The IPhone and the Future of Media, 184-193.