With the increasing power and resolution of phones, the gaming experience on mobile has become comparable to that of a DS, now even Switch. I have only come to consider myself a ‘mobile gamer’ during the last year or so. Prior to that I did most of my gaming on my computer or on a console. I would play mobile games occasionally, but I never really considered it as filling the ‘gaming’ niche in my life until more recently. A few slightly more ‘involved’ mobile games that I have played have spurred my transition into a mobile gaming. There have been several pros and cons during the transition that I felt worth sharing.
Pros of Mobile Gaming
The most obvious pro of mobile gaming is how convenient a phone as a gaming device is. I almost always have my phone with me or near me. It fits in my pocket. It is almost always charged because of the myriad other purposes it serves in my life.
Most often, I do not leave my house with the intention or expectation that I will want or need entertainment. I don’t even bring a book. But I will always bring my phone. As a result, regardless of forethought I always have entertainment available when I want it.
When traveling, other gaming devices take up space in my luggage, or I need to remember chargers and accessories. Even my DS takes up space that could be used instead for a toothbrush or extra pair of socks. Not to mention I need to remember the charger.
I can also play on mobile anywhere anytime. I like to play mobile games while I am cooking, eating at the diner table, or in bed while my significant other is asleep. I play while waiting for my ride, or just waiting in line.
Entertainment for the Busy
It is much easier to find time to play on mobile than it is for any other gaming device. The ‘pick up and put down’ model that most games on mobile have also make them much more convenient for those who are busy and likely to be called away.
Often I only have a few free minutes. Having to find my DS, or wait for my computer or console to boot up would likely take up most of the limited time, and becomes not worth the effort. A lot of the time I don’t want to or can’t commit to sitting in front of a console, computer or even handheld for any significant length of time. Mobile gaming lets me game instantly, and for a short amount of time.
Cons of Mobile Gaming
Lots of Interruptions
I have found that others have come to treat the gaming experience with a certain respect. You don’t interrupt someone who is playing a game, or try to engage them in complex conversation. You don’t ask them to do favors or tasks and expect it to be done instantly, you give them time to ‘finish their game’.
Most people have yet to make the connection that a phone=hand held gaming device. When playing a game on mobile others assume that the experience is shallow, not a ‘real game’. It has happened very often that I will be playing a very engaging game, and someone will try to start having a conversation with me, or will ask me to do something for them. Both myself and the other person get frustrated, because the other person does not understand that I am engaged in a gaming experience that they are disrespecting.
Low Value Experience
Despite the fact that the mobile gaming audience is the largest gaming audience, mobile gamers are at the bottom of the gaming community totem pole. Many gamers do not consider mobile gaming to actually count as gaming at all, because the games played on mobile are too shallow.
The most annoying thing is that they are not wrong. If you are a mobile gamer, you are much more likely to be playing a bad game. Most mobile games are shallow ad and micro-transaction vehicles, with very little value in the experience they provide to their users. They are a sub-par experience when compared to even the simplest of PC and console games.
This perception though is what makes it acceptable for developers to create bad time wasting games whose only purpose is to guzzle money. Those who care about the quality of their gaming experience disown mobile gaming, and thus do not bring their demand for value into the mobile market.
Encourage Many Bad Habits
The worst thing about mobile games is that they encourage many bad habits.
Chief among those habits is falling victim to addicting but unrewarding feedback loops. Mobile games are specifically designed with first and foremost the intention to get players coming back. They do this by using psychological cues to make their games addicting. The result is that even if a mobile game is not rewarding, not relaxing, or even fun, it is very easy for a person to form habits of playing that game.
Even worse, with micro-transactions, it is very easy for someone to waste their money on a game. If they are sufficiently addicted, a person can easily end up paying far more for a game than the experience is actually worth.
Also, because mobile games are so easy to pick up and play, people can do so a the slightest hint of boredom or disinterest with their current situation. This can make it very easy for someone to be accidentally rude. There is already the common problem of people staring at their phones and not talking to each other. But with the attention that games require, it makes it more difficult than otherwise to disengage from one’s phone and return to the social situation.
Mobile gaming is not for everyone. There are many aspects that make mobile gaming something to be wary of, if not avoid entirely. However, if you are able to manage your level of addictiveness to a game, or easily move on from unrewarding game experiences, then mobile gaming can be very fun.
For me, I will continue to be a mobile gamer because mobile games are free, or at least very cheap, and I appreciate the convenience. A couple of my favorite games, Mini Metro and Flower, have come out on mobile. As one time purchase games, they provide a high amount of value for my mobile gaming experience.