Gaming on the Go

Gaming on the Go
Why Portable is Paragon

Justin Leeper | 19 Jul 2005 12:02
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It's a typical Friday morning at LAX - which means a line that runs laps around the terminal, doing my best striptease for security, and indulging in an $8 breakfast burrito that strives to meet the strict nutritional guidelines of Purina dog food. After all that, my flight will be an hour late. With nary a crinkling of my brow, I sit at the gate and wait it out. This means I can put in another 18 in Hot Shots: Open Tee for the PSP, so it ain't all bad.

Mobile gaming has become huge, and the reasons why are plentiful. It suits our on-the-go lifestyles, allowing you to play anywhere the feeling hits you. Both hardware and software are cheaper, while offering competitive entertainment values. It appeals to an audience that is more vast and broad than console gaming - catering especially to casual players and kiddies. The list goes on and on.

You Always Got Game
I don't know about you, but there are all sorts of times when I get the urge to game, and only a fraction happen when I'm in my living room with my PS2, Xbox, and GameCube staring hopefully in my direction. Mobile games bring the fun to you, instead of the other way around. You aren't tied to your sofa, and you don't need a bulky box and TV around to indulge in digital decadence. With their own screens, headphone attachments, and light sources, you won't be disturbing anyone else.

We're a society that's always in motion. Contributing to our hurried lifestyles is making up for all the setbacks and delays we're forced to endure. We constantly find ourselves a captive audience - be it waiting at the mechanic's, cruising at 30,000 feet, or when you're taking a porcelain pit stop (admittedly where I do a good portion of my playing). How can you pass the time? You play mobile games, of course! I mean, what else are you going to do - read a book!? (For those who actually do N-Gage took this idea and decided to try killing two birds with one stone - combining a high-end phone with a fully functioning game platform. In fact, they plan to try killing a third bird by adding N-Gage technology to the next generation of smart phones - thus bringing even more digital diversion to the high-tech set. Sony's PSP is a next-generation Swiss army knife, as it plays movies and MP3s (and even older systems' games if you're one of the hacker "leet").

Bring Us Your Huddled Masses
More women and children are playing portable games, while we 18-34 males are still giving it our full support to boot. If you don't wield your controller like the great Excalibur, it's not easy getting into the current generation of console games: so many buttons, so much complexity. The majority of portable titles still keep it smooth and simple, with controls that allow anyone with three or more fingers to enjoy themselves, and difficulty that won't have you breaking expensive things into tiny little pieces.

With phone games, it's like an 8-bit resurgence. Cellular game developers are dealing with similar technology, yet they get to apply all the knowledge learned in the last 20 years. Hence, you see a lot of new styles of play that cater to a different audience. NBA Fantasy Five, THQ's fantasy basketball game, and Airborne's Buzztime Trivia are appealing and easy enough that, even if you've never played a video game, you can still partake in their splendor. Neither game requires flashy production values to get its point across, either.

Then there are the young'uns, to whom Nintendo owes a debt of gratitude. If it wasn't for the facts that more kids own GBAs than bicycles or that Pokemon became a worldwide phenomenon, the company may have gone under. Portable gaming is what has kept them afloat for many years, while consoles like N64 and GameCube lost more and more market share to Sony and Microsoft.

Cut The Cord
Portable gaming is here to stay, and I have a feeling its growth will exceed console and PC business in no time. There are just too many benefits to gaming on the go, and too many people to whom it appeals. The PSP does so many things well. The Nintendo DS has so many innovative features. Cell phone games are so painless and no-strings-attached. One way or another, mobile games are going to hook you. Cut the cord, and let your imagination run wild.

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