…until I got an iPhone for Christmas. Nothing has been the same since.
Let me explain myself: I didn’t want an iPhone. I didn’t ask for it. As my friends were assimilated into the world of Apple one by one, devoured in their tweeting and thrumming Apple ecosystems, I resisted. I didn’t need an iPhone. I had generic LG smartphones that cost $50 and had to be replaced every two years. I could check my mail and Facebook on them, maybe tweet a little, and that was all I needed. I didn’t care for a fancy-shmacy iPhone with a bajillion apps and Angry Birds and a basically built-in iPod. I owned a Blackberry once, and I hated it. I hated how it felt in my hands, hated having something so complicated just so I could check my email on the go. I got rid of it and switched to an LG Ally — the generic, poor-man’s Android.
But then I grew up, and the work I did made it necessary to constantly be in touch with the great wide world. And so my loving parents, always supportive of my kooky hobbies and dreams, surprised me with a white iPhone 4S for Christmas (about a month early) and declared that I was now ready to be a big girl.I was flooded with suggestions that sounded more like demands. I was to download Jetpack Joyride and Angry Birds immediately, maybe Bejeweled, and Fruit Ninja if I had the time. Also Words With Friends, because there was no way I’d be able to live without getting in on that action. I ignored all of them.
You see, I’m not what you would commonly call a “casual” gamer (though I understand the labels “casual” and “hardcore” gamer do not truly exist anymore). Yes, I pick up games when I’m bored, but I never hit the start button without a purpose. I could sit for hours and play Angry Birds, but where’s the reward in that? Something to occupy my brain to make my morning commute go faster? Part of the reason I turned my nose up at the iPhone is the first place was that I didn’t see a need for these games. I didn’t want them. I game to be stimulated, to submerge myself in something all-encompassing and satisfying. I want games with plots, people who talk to me, crazy music. The idea of “casual” iOS games like Jetpack Joyride just doesn’t turn me on like the prospect of settling on my couch for a wild night with Odin Sphere or Uncharted 3.
By no means am I dismissing iOS games, oh no. I just wasn’t in it for a quick fix — I acknowledge that other people want it, need it, but I’m a different breed and it takes quite a bit more immersion for my fancy to be tickled.
Until, that is, I got with the program and realized just what was out there for picky-pants gamers like myself.
At the suggestion of a friend I downloaded Chaos Rings, Media.Vision’s dungeon-crawl RPG exclusive to iOS and Android. It’s a simple little game, but terribly engrossing. Then came Sword and Sworcery EP. I forwent using my kanji flashcard app and getting a head start on emails so I could squeeze in a half hour of gameplay during the morning. I played Mage Gaunlet standing over the stove while sauces burned and pots boiled over. And because I’m a sucker for the games, I downloaded Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana and went at them while I waited for my computer or PS3 to boot up.
When I started missing my train stop and bumping into parking meters as I walked, I knew that I was a dirty, dirty hypocrite.
Not only was I an asshat for being verbose in my disdain for the iPhone and its plethora of apps and games, but I was addicted to iOS RPGs. I was so intent on keeping handheld gaming to specifically-designed handhelds like the PSP and 3DS. The idea of mobile games, “cellphone games,” made me clutch my pearls in horror. Games on your phone? Who would play games on their phone when they could play them on a system with the sole purpose of allow them to game on the go?
Me. I would. I would play games on my phone.
The more time I spend with it, the more I am realizing how brilliant this little piece of equipment is, and what it means for the future of gaming in general. (Yes, this is the same person who had an orgasm over the PS Vita.) I am heinously late to jump on the bandwagon, and a concede to join you mobile gamers with my tail between my legs in shame. Most individuals today keep their cellphone on them at all times. People who don’t normally identify themselves as gamers may soon be inducted into the fold just by picking up Angry Birds or Popcorn Dragon. What’s to stop them from branching out from there? And what’s to stop current gamers from spending less time in front of the television and more getting their fix on the go? In a world as busy as ours, we are no longer limited by our surroundings, or even our resources.
The future of gaming is becoming more mobile. The stigma of being a gamer no longer conjures the image of a basement dweller; no, we are everywhere, with our iPads and iPhones and PS Vita’s snugly in our purses and pockets. The available number of games for mobile phones is astounding. The rules are being rewritten, and you can only (like me) refuse to look at them so long before the inevitable happens. Don’t be such an old fart.
The mobile games industry is erecting an empire, and “casual” and “hardcore” gamers alike are flocking to pay homage at its temples. It’s easy, it’s fluid, it’s great for people like me who don’t want to interact with others on public transportation. The gamers are coming out into the sunlight, and carrying their worlds and their weapons in their pockets. This isn’t a bad thing.