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The following article originally appeared on Video Game Design Schools. It is reprinted with the permission of its author.
Written by Alanna Hardy
Technology has done wonders for the world; it has eradicated disease, brought man to the moon (and soon Mars) and increased living standards across the globe. But its shining achievement doesn’t involve the medical sciences or space travel; it is the invention of the video game. From its earliest manifestations in the 1950s and ’60s, video games have given ceaseless joy to generations of children, who in turn pass their passion for gaming on to their children. Furthermore, the same generation that grew up with SpaceWar!, Atari and Nintendo have now borne witness to two revolutionary inventions that are changing the landscape of video-game design: the Internet and the smart device. The Internet has matured into a veritable digital arcade, where gamers can choose from countless free video games or more sophisticated MMOGs (massively multiplayer online game) such as World of Warcraft. Meanwhile, mobile gaming on smart devices – an industry worth $33 billion – is a field swelling with potential for designers. Thanks to Moore’s Law – that famous formula stating that processing power will double every two years — the nostalgic, cumbersome video game console of old has vanished, only to be replaced by the invisible sinews of the World Wide Web and the sleek smartphone.
Such advancements in size and processing power have produced a perfect storm of accessibility and entertainment in video game design. Of the 72 percent of American households playing computer or video games, 55 percent choose to play them on their phones or handheld devices. In a society obsessed with convenience and social interaction, mobile and online social games are the land of opportunity for video game designers to apply their creativity and skills.
By 2015, more than 200 million Americans – about 65% of America – will have smartphones or tablets. Envisaged as handheld game consoles rather than just mobile platforms, games supported on these devices are becoming wildly popular. In 2009, 27,000 smartphone applications were downloaded a half-billion times. Of these apps, one in three were games or entertainment apps played on such devices as the iPhone, a device industry expert Stephanie Morgan of ngmoco believes is a superior game-playing console than Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP. These words mean a lot when it is taken into consideration that the iPhone is principally a phone, while the DS and PSP are solely video-game consoles.
What makes mobile games so appealing is that they don’t require an outlet, a controller, or a rulebook. They can be purchased on the fly via an online marketplace and downloaded in a matter of minutes, which makes them an incredibly versatile gaming platform. Furthermore, in this modern era of imbedded advertisements and low-priced add-ons, free games provide a handsome reward to the creators. One thing is clear: mobile gaming – an industry whose market value is projected to exceed $54 billion in 2015 – is highly lucrative for the brains behind the games. And, as the operating systems for mobile devices become more sophisticated and powerful, the sky is truly the limit for game designers, animators and developers.
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