Hey folks, I wanted to share a story about something that happened to me yesterday. I thought it was interesting and relevant enough to write here.
To set up the narrative – I currently work as a part-time employee at a local pet store, and each day when my shift ends I pick up a family friend’s kids from school and drop them off at their home. They don’t have a ride back home, and the friend of mine needed her kids driven back to their house from school, so I’ve been helping them with this for the past few months.
Anyway, the two kids and I were driving back home, and the topic of conversation turned to Injustice 2, the newly released fighting game by NetherRealm Studios for the PS4 and Xbox One. The older of the siblings asked me if I had played the new Injustice game, and I replied that no, I had not. However, I have seen a decent amount of gameplay, and think that the game looks fun. The kid went on to talk about which characters were his favorite to play as, and we spoke about the interesting roster that the game features. I then asked him which platform he plays the game on, out of curiosity, and he replied “What do you mean? I’m playing it on my iPhone.”
To be honest, this reply caught me a bit off guard. For starters, I had completely forgotten that a touch-friendly, free-to-play port of Injustice 2 was brought to mobile. I was fully expecting the kid to say that he played the game on a traditional gaming console, but this was not the case. The kid’s younger sibling then mentioned that they were thinking about playing the game as well, since it was a free download from the App Store. This statement is what got me thinking: How are the kids of today experiencing video games that is similar or different to how I played games while growing up?
For reference, my previous blog post was about the very first video game that I played, which was Pokemon Pinball for the Gameboy Color. It was also the only game system that I owned, until the Gamecube showed up in my living room as a birthday present in 2004. Growing up, my parents did not buy me many video games, and because of this I made the most out of the games that I did manage to receive. I caught nearly every Pokemon in Pokemon Silver, discovered every secret collectible in Wario Land 3, and beat Super Mario Land more times than I can count. In addition to this, my parents restricted my playtime to half an hour a day. I think this is a smart move for many kids, because any responsible parent wants to teach their child self-control and patience. That being said, I admit I would occasionally sneak the Gameboy into my room late at night to have a bit of extra game time. Still, I believe the limited game time was a smart choice, as it taught me a level of self-control.
I wonder how this restriction is applied in today’s world of video games being available on most devices that we own. When I was a child, mobile phones did not occupy the same level of popularity as they do today, and playing video games on a mobile phone was a distant dream. Of course, there were some phones that offered simple games like Snake or Solitaire, but these are a far cry from the Injustices, Infinity Blades, or the Plants Vs. Zombies games offered in the mobile market today. Do the parents of kids that play these games collect their child’s phones past a certain hour to restrict their access to playing these games? This is something that my parents usually enforced when I was a child, but I wonder if similar behavior is used by today’s parents.
This also brings me to another thought I had. When there are a bevy of free games available on the mobile market, does a child raised on free-to-play games ever want to spend actual money for more in-depth experiences, such as those found on a traditional game console? These are questions that cannot be answered at this moment in time, because the mobile gaming market is, technically, still in its infancy. The effect that it has on kids growing up playing these free-to-start applications cannot yet be analyzed in an efficient manner, but I hope there are other people like myself curious about how it affects kids that play games in the future. Maybe the kids that play a bunch of free-to-play mobile games will feel fully satisfied with their touch-controlled experiences, or perhaps they will still desire an experience found only on PC or on a console. In addition to this, will the mobile market affect kids’ desire to one hundred percent complete a game, like I did in my youth? The vast amount of choices given to App Store users is staggering, featuring a near lifetime of games to play. Will kids feel satisfied with these choices? Granted, a good chunk of these App Store games are considered by some to be garbage-tier, but the point remains. To be clear, I do not believe that mobile games will take over the AAA market space any time soon. No, far from it. I just wanted to share this thought I had.
I suppose this post doesn’t answer any of the questions that I brought up, but instead has caused me to think on the effect that the mobile market will have on kids growing up. I thought it’d be an interesting thought to share here, and if you’ve made it this far, I hope you enjoyed the read. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!