Mobile gaming - everything to play for

By: Christopher Smith

Chances are that you or someone you know is affected by the mobile gaming virus. There is a lot of it about and developments in technology are helping it to spread like wildfire. Even if you do not consider yourself a gamer you could one day be exposed to its effects. All it takes is a Java-enabled mobile phone and there are already over 150 million of them in the US alone.

What we are really talking about of course is the growth in popularity of mobile gaming; in other words, playing games on your mobile phone. Mobile gaming is set to become big business in 2004 as the number of BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) and Java-enabled mobile phones in circulation continues to grow. In addition, manufacturers are continually adding colored screens and advanced features to their latest models, making mobile gaming a rich and vibrant experience for users.

The games themselves are readily available from a wide range of sources and can be easily downloaded from numerous web sites, with prices starting at $2.99 or less.

There is something for everyone with games ranging from favorites such as PacMan, chess and checkers to motor racing, jet-skiing and even erotic games.

Many people consider online gaming to be a predominantly male activity and a young male activity at that. Last fall, at a conference on mobile gaming, Mark Stanger from game developers Eidos suggested that 92% of PlayStation 2 players are men. Whilst it is probably true that online and console gamers are mainly male (how many women do you know that own a Sony PlayStation 2) analysis suggests that mobile phone gaming could be encouraging a growing percentage of women to play games.

Downloading games to a mobile phone can be done from anywhere. Women do not need to venture into the testosterone-laden atmosphere of game shops and this may account for why an increasing number of females are entering the world of mobile gaming. Interestingly, it also appears that women are playing the more traditional games such as solitaire and backgammon rather than the 'shoot 'em dead' kind.

Just as more women are playing games, so to are an increasing number of older people. Figures from the Entertainment Software Association released in August 2003 indicate that a full 17% of game players are over age 50, up from 13% in 2000.

This would suggest that gamers are an increasingly diverse group and the appeal of gaming is spreading across the sexes and across different ages and socio-economic backgrounds. People seem to be more and more at ease playing games on consoles, online and now on mobile phones.

With growing awareness of mobile gaming, improved and ever-wider distribution channels for mobile games, and an increasing degree of comfort with payment and delivery over the air amongst subscribers, everything points to an explosion in growth. This translates into a multi-billion dollar market for providers of mobile technology, game developers and retailers and a completely new way of looking at mobile phones.

Copyright ? 2004Science Articles, Christopher Smith

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