All good things in moderation I tell myself whenever I order take-out food, enjoy a nice glass of whiskey, or in this case dive into the world of mobile gaming. Is it a weird thing to compare these three? I don't think so, as this is coming from someone who after years of fierce resistance to the funny ads, the endless promotions, and MTX hungry features synonymous with mobile games has finally caved and you know what? I'm having fun, short bursts of fun, but fun nonetheless.
For nearly 10 long years I was under the impression that spending any time with mobile was going to be a lesser experience. I was around when mobile games were just getting started. This means mainly 2d flash-looking games with poor framerates on those old Nokia bricks that were seeming indestructible and never ran out of battery. Compared to what the Nintendo DS and Playstation PSP offered at the time, this was seen as a poor attempt to court me over when better options existed.
Fast forward to college and suddenly phones are becoming more powerful, more usable (You touch the screen? Crazy!), and the games more powerful. It wasn't long before games like NOVA and Infinity Blade started showing up and looking pretty impressive on the small screen. Still, I held back. I was a young, arrogant gamer who believed in console and PC supremacy. Why would I ever waste my time when bigger, more impressive options awaited me?
Now, I'm in my mid-twenties and working overseas in South Korea where suddenly, everything revolves around mobile gaming. Back home, every adult I know plays Words with Friends and Candy Crush. Suddenly I'm riding subways where giant posters of a mobile Diablo clone greet me every morning. Even formerly console and PC games like Bioshock and X-Com begin making appearances on more phones. Still, I remain stubborn. I just got a new PS4. Why would I waste my time with an inferior-looking mobile port?
I am now in my early 30's. I'm stuck working from a desk or in meetings most of the day. I like many others have a backlog of games that continues to grow like a digital hydra where one game is completed and three more take its place. The era of PS4 is over and PS5's and new GPUs are currently almost impossible to find.
My actual time available to play games is slowly shrinking away. Sure I get the weekends sometimes but even then it's much less than it used to be. Anything outside of 60 hours now seems like too much of a time sink and where I formally used to be an adamant supporter of large TV or monitor supremacy over smaller screens, I'm spending less and less time with my Switch docked and more time playing handheld in between work breaks. My job requires me to be glued to my phone almost 8 hours a day. This is where during times of sheer boredom I wander to the Google Play Store and see images of bright, vivid, and colorful 3D games of nearly all genres. Much to my surprise, some of these don't look bad, some look dare I say it, interesting and fun.
It is now a Friday when I am writing this and I am waiting for my last task to finish before calling it a day. During this time I hop onto a mobile game called Cover Fire where I do my daily task of completing missions o earn more points to level up my character skills. The game itself is a simple third-person shooter but it looks nice, controls well, and gives me those short burst of shooty flavored action that the arcade games of yesterday used to give me. Afterward, maybe I'll jump into Call of Duty Mobile for some quick deathmatches using older maps and weapons that scratch that nostalgic itch in a way the newer console and PC titles simply can't do.
Or maybe I'll use these last minutes to finish a mission in Kill Shot Bravo, a generic-sounding title but gives me simple Silent Scope style gameplay that once again harkens back to those quick-fix arcade days that have seemingly disappeared from mainstream gaming. So many options that can be completed in bite-sized chunks of time. Best of all? It's all free!
Playing games on console and PC will always be my preferred way of experiencing the best that gaming has to offer. Nothing will come close to the open-world majesty of Ghost of Tsushima or the fine-tuned precision of Doom Eternal with a mouse and keyboard on my mobile phone but I'm also aware enough that it doesn't have to be. I'm looking for a fun, engaging time waster and that's where mobile games shine the brightest. It's that short burst of arcade-like fun that provides an enjoyable stop-gap in my day before I log on to bigger meatier gaming experiences. Sometimes I want don't want to mindlessly stare at boomers arguing on Facebook or KPOP wars on Twitter. Sometimes I want to mindlessly slaughter zombie Unity assets on my phone and that's ok.
Like that greasy processed cheeseburger, as long as you indulge all the time, you can get a decent amount of fun and enjoyment out of mobile gaming experiences. And like the greasy cheeseburger as long as you're not expecting a gourmet meal, you'll be fine. Life's all about expectations and opening your mind to new ideas. Try it, and who knows, like me, you might find yourself having a little fun in the process.
If anyone wants a list of mobile games I play let me know and I'll do a future write-up.