Saturday, June 10, 2006

Calling All Gamers

When cell phone games first hit the market, they were cheap knock-offs of old classics like snake and concentration, only without the fun. Then they got better: they got colorized, but they were still cheap boredom busters.

Now, they're starting to get better: games for cell phones and other mobile devices have started to show definite signs of improvement in the area of gameplay. Games like Asphalt Urban GT have now shown up on cell phones, and old favorites (along with new additions) now have new ideas and innovative concepts.


Asphalt Urban GT is one of many new games for cell phones.

Unfortunately, the games designers still haven't fully grasped the huge potential the cell phone offers. Flip phones offer both a small outside screen for closed use and a larger inner screen for normal use, and they have a sensor to detect whether the phone is open or closed. Some phones have cameras of different megapixel amounts; some are good quality, most are bad. All cell phones have lots of buttons, some more than others. Phones can be turned sideways or even upside down. They can play sounds and music, and they have microphones for picking up sounds as well. They can vibrate. Some can flash lights on the case. Why aren't these capabilities being used by the designers?

The main reason is because not all phones are created equal. Some have cameras, some don't. Some flip, some don't. Some flash, some don't. You get the picture. But that's where it gets tricky; how can a game be built on a feature that only works on a small percentage of phones?


Snake is one of the many classic games that have shown up on cell phones.

Until some standards are set, this unfortunately won't change. All phone games will be made with the same technologies, and the will all use the same general buttons. Slowly, phone companies will create phones with more and more features that come standard, and games will start taking control of these features. But until then, we're stuck with the same ol' ideas.

Do you have some examples of games that use unique technologies, new concepts, or innovative ideas that improve gameplay? How about examples of games that have attempted in this regard, but failed? Click the "comments so far" link below and let us know; your opinion counts!

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