16 June 2020

Mobile, Mobile or Mobile Games?

The "graphics" versus "aesthetics" misunderstanding between players and developers isn't the only problem. Even developers confuse each other with terms like Mobile, Mobile, and Mobile Games. Though, this issue arises from the ambiguity of abbreviation. The full terms would be games on mobile devices, games developed for mobile devices, and mobile context-aware mobile games. But what is the difference? Why are they all just called "Mobile Games"? And how to categorize games like Diablo Immortal, Merge Dragons, Weather Farmer, Emulators, Pokemon GO and Candy Crush?

Mobile Games as Games On Mobile Devices

Showing a game with simulated analog stick and buttons.
Non-natural input on smart-phone.
https://pixabay.com/photos/game-play-mobile-game-android-game-4622800/
"Games on mobile devices" is the broadest category. If a game is available for a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet, it is a mobile game, more accurately, a mobile device game, which abbreviates to a mobile game. Ported games are a massive subcategory of these. Their typical controls are buttons and analog stick simulations, like in Diablo Immortal or Emulators. As such, they can't belong to the next category.



Mobile Games as Games Developed For Mobile Device

Showing a game that uses touch to drag and swap candy
Natural input on smart-phone.
https://www.piqsels.com/en/public-domain-photo-jfxiz
A game designed for mobile devices uses device inputs naturally. Since a game developed for a console is a console game. A game developed for a mobile device is a mobile game. Hence the confusing terminology. An example of natural input on smartphones would be tapping to select an object, or dragging your finger over the screen to move an object. However, natural-input does not match all games. Thus, "one does not simply [develop an MMORPG on mobile]"[1]. Merge Dragons and Candy Crush are games developed for mobile devices, but not the next one since they don't use contexts.


Mobile Games as Context-Aware Mobile Games

Showing a game that uses GPS and AR as contexts
Game using GPS and area context
https://www.flickr.com/photos/140521268@N03/27947940226
When using the device's position, surrounding area, light level, etc.. We get a context-aware mobile game, specifically, a mobile context-aware mobile game. Since it is a game and contains "mobile" twice, it is a mobile game. Researchers are still researching these relatively new mobile games, but they already provide a plethora of possibilities. Their era got initiated by Pokemon GO. And present features such as considering weather-data like in Weather Farmer.[2]

Conclusion

Now you know about the different mobile games. You understand why they're called mobile games. And you know their differences and what determines their category. Keep in mind these categories do not determine the game's quality, though they relate to their uniqueness. You don't see games using your location or weather on a computer, for example. That wouldn't work well either unless the player is using a laptop.

[1] Lord of the Rings - One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor Meme
[2] Technical University Munich: IN0040 Social Games
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I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.