The Mighty, Mighty Smartphone

It’s one of the most popular gaming devices on the planet, it’s generated an unheard of amount of dollars in revenue due to game sales, and it’s the most widespread and accessible platform available to virtually everyone in our modern world.

It’s the smartphone, and it’s changed gaming as we know it.

Say what you will about the smartphone as a mobile gaming device. Some argue that it’s not legitimate, that it’s just a knock-off, and others turn their nose up at it, casting it aside as a “casual gamer’s platform”.

But I’d like to argue that point by saying this: the smartphone has changed gaming as we know it, and it’s about time we gave it the respect it deserves.

The smartphone is still a relatively new phenomenon, taking the form of Android, Blackberry, iOS, and all other handheld devices that support applications. Apps on these devices exist for practically any an all subjects under the sun, giving rise to the joke “there’s an app for that.”

Because of this, smartphones have revolutionized how we interact with the world around us, giving us all the conveniences we could possibly need at the tip of our fingers.

With this kind of setup and accessibility, it’s no surprise that gaming has found its way to the heart of smartphones. Games have always had a place on cell phones, dating all the way back to their early days. And now, with advanced technology and software, we’ve seen an entirely new species of game emerge onto phones in today’s market. Ports, original titles, remakes, and reboots are all familiar to the gaming sphere of the mobile phone, many of them being quite lucrative and amounting in millions of dollars worth of sales. Tech on the device has only improved, giving us games that run with the same depth and fidelity as many console games, such as Infinity Blade and Dark Meadow. This kind of popularity has allowed the smartphone to become a serious competitor with other mobile devices such as the 3DS and Vita.

Surprisingly, smartphone giant Apple has not always been the most hospitable to gaming on their devices. Today, games make up a large majority of the best-selling apps on their App Store, and it’s near impossible to find someone who doesn’t have at least one game on their iPhone or iPad.

So how exactly has the smartphone changed gaming?

While video games have long faced an uphill battle with ignorance in society deeming them devilish and responsible for violence in children, gaming on the smartphone has taken the experience off of the more core devices such as consoles and PCs and put them in the palms of everyday people’s hands. Take a ride on the bus, and you’ll see a businessman sitting in the back, dragging his finger across the screen as he launches at targets in Angry Birds. Visit a doctor’s office, and you’ll see a middle-aged woman playing Bejeweled. Head to a store, and you’ll see a toddler playing a matching game on his parent’s phone as they push him along in the cart. Games like Draw Something and Words With Friends have enjoyed great popularity and connected people throughout the world, and even some console ports have made their way to the device, including Max Payne and some of the more classic retro games like Mega Man 2.

It’s the intuitive design and accessibility of smartphone gaming that has bridged the gap between gamers and the rest of the world, ushering in a whole new category of people who are booting up games and playing in their spare time. Sure, they’re casual. And you know what? Casual gamers are fine. They’re gamers, just the same. They just don’t live and breathe games like the core gamer does. This does not mean we should look down on them for any reason. In fact, we need to embrace them as part of a larger gaming community that is growing every day.

The fact of the matter is this: thanks to the popularity of smartphone gaming, games have extended their appeal far beyond what it used to be. More exposure means that more people will embrace the idea of games, bringing us one step closer to eliminating all negative stigma and stereotypes associated with gaming in general, and finally allowing us to realize gaming as a true and legitimate form of entertainment.

So, thank your smartphone for what it’s done. It might just be one of the most important gaming tools we’ve ever seen.