Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja are last year. The coming years will yield a crop of new, innovative ways to use mobile gaming. Here are a few ideas already taking root and inspiring phone and tablet developers around the world:
1. “Come Together” Games
Community-based gaming works especially well on mobile devices, where people can pull out their phones, log on, and make a difference for just a few minutes at a time. Bungie’s new Destiny project has hinted at this type of community play. On a strictly mobile basis, building games where players work together to build a world or solve a mystery together in a broad effort are growing more popular than ever before. These games can also function as social networks, or incorporate portals to other popular networks. These games tend to end when the goal is reached…but there is always another goal, or even another game entirely.
2. Interactive Storytelling
Mobile gaming, particularly tablet gaming, is breathing new life into the interactive storytelling segment. The easy swiping motions, the closeness of the screens, and the availability of the platform to a wide range of developers all make storytelling a very viable medium in the mobile world. These stories allow players to follow the storyline at their own speed, exploring the world and – more often than not – solving various puzzles or quests along the way. However, the real heart of these games is in strong story writing and emotional depth that can engage many different players at once.
3. Serial Gaming
Serial gaming refers to gaming “chapters” that are released in stages, either in frequent app updates or entirely new game apps. Serial gaming works well for interactive storytelling, where each “chapter” can be an update. The approach can also be applied to many different single player games. Serial gaming could not find a place in the console world, but the cheap, easy operation of mobile devices is perfect for serialized software – providing the gameplay is compelling enough.
4. Educational Efforts
Educational games are highly professional attempts at bringing game elements into schools to teach kids everything from math to grammar. The mobile world is boosting this trend because of the innate usability of something like a tablet, even for younger kids. And not only normal students will be tapping at those touchscreens – there is also a growing market for game apps designed to help disabled students learn and surmount learning challenges or physical problems. While these games may not draw in the crowds with addictive play elements, they are doing some real good in the world.
5. Integration with Other Systems and Games
Mobile games will not be lonely. Most major brands, like Microsoft and Sony, have developed integrated apps like Smartglass that will merge mobile and TV play into one experience. This turns the mobile screen into tool – anything from an inventory screen to a mini-game or source of extra information about in-game events. Additional sights and sounds from these integration apps will grow more common as developers branch out.
6. Games Merging with the Real World
It’s called augmented reality, and it is one of the more promising gaming innovations in the mobile world. Thanks to a variety of mobile tricks, from GPS positioning to photo-based scanners and NFC technology, devices like smartphones can interact with the real world in many ways. The step is a short one to a game that takes these elements and incorporates them in gameplay. Scavenger hunt elements (as may be found in a DaVinci Code-like game) are the easiest with current technology, but developers have plenty of room to grow more innovative as positioning and sensor components grow more advanced.