Don't Discount Phone Games Entirely

It's easy for both gamers and non-gamers to dismiss the world of smartphone games. For non-gamers smartphone games may seem frivolous, distracting, wastes of time, like any other video game but with the added annoyance of smart phones being present nearly everywhere. For gamers the smart phone game market is flooded with rehashes, micro transactions and playtime limitations, to say nothing of the widespread contempt for the casual/social games, of which, the mobile gaming sphere is primarily composed.  I'm not going to sit here and say that these concerns aren't valid, because I certainly share many of these same beliefs. But I play a lot of games on my phone and can attest to the positive aspects of smartphone games become as popular as they are. This is a topic that requires analysis from many different perspectives and so, expect more on the topic soon, but I wanted to start by talking a bit about why smartphone games are good for the gaming community at large.

In a report from it is forecast that the global games market will reach $108.9 billion dollars in revenue in 2017. Of this, around 30% of this revenue will come from mobile games with major growth expected towards 2020. The mobile game market is growing. You can tell by the numbers, but you can also tell just by being out in the world. How many people, do you know right now with one or more games on their smartphone? Now of those people how many of them do you think would consider playing a video game on any system, including PC, if not for their smartphone? I'd wager all of us know quite a few people who've become engaged with smartphone games who would never play video games outside of that capacity. Up until quite recently, to a great degree, the core community of gamers has felt negatively towards smartphone gaming growth and have made it standard practice to "gatekeep" the "gamer" identity by often discounting that mobile games are a valid way to game entirely.

Recently, gamers have eased up from that gatekeeping to a degree, but it still feels very much as though playing smartphone games is viewed as very casual whereas, playing on a PC or a dedicated gaming console is seen as more hardcore and therefore more valid. Though playing a smartphone may not hurt your "gaming credibility" as much as it used to, The fact is that phone games are still video games and if you play a lot of smartphone games, you are a gamer at least in some capacity. And the community should be welcoming these new gamers with open arms. 

In the US, and indeed much of the western world, video games are considered to be childish, distracting, overly violent, and/or just not a good use of time. Of course, I believe this is bullshit but, hey, I don't create the societal standards. Over the years there has been much money funneled into proving that video games are addling our minds, making us more violent or more tolerant of violence or reducing our abilities to function as productive members of the world. The cultural predisposition to think of gamers as "weird" or atypical is simply a fact and gamers have been dealing with this for years. It makes it awkward as we grow older to still engage with the communities and the games that we enjoy and are passionate about. Any adult gamer can tell you that. But, the fact of the matter is that gamers are fairly average people who play games for fairly average reasons and usually live balanced lives. But, historically, gaming has been something to hide or something to not claim as a part of who you are. Over the last decade, this has lessened, in no small part because in 2007 the iphone was released and in 2008 the app store opened and started the smartphone game and app industry. Widening the number of people who played video games which marked the beginning of the process of normalizing video games in our society. Now it's not unusual for someone who doesn't consider themselves a gamer necessarily to play games on a dedicated console or PC. And with the stigma around video games reducing, to openly admit it. This makes enjoying video games easier. It allows us in the community to speak openly about our interests and also opens up the world to understand how video games  could have positive applications. A "win win" for both gamers and "non gamers".