Mobile gaming history
Social Impact


A deep dive on cellphone gaming by Leonytus Blaqman

Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, and Despicable Me; Minion Rush all have one thing in common - apart from the serotonin we release when we are playing them - they are all mobile. All of these games we play on our cell phones or tablets.

The thing is mobile games did not just come out of nowhere and they certainly are not the first version of this kind of game ie, mobile. Mobile gaming was invented in 1994. It was a preinstalled version of Tetris which came on a mobile phone. Three years later, the world-famous snake game came on the Nokia 6110. Since 1997, the world-famous snake game has been installed on 400 million devices. It holds the record for one of the most played mobile video games of all time.

The launch of the iPhone and the app store skyrocketed the mobile gaming industry. Mobile games were now being specifically developed for this mobile device. Societal Impacts of Mobile Gaming Mobile gaming can impact physical health which can manifest into social insecurities. Mobile gaming can cause obesity, in addition to carpal tunnel syndrome and neck and spine damage due to improper posture. Mobile gaming may lead to addiction. A higher level of social anxiety may be present in avid mobile gamers.

Out of Control Spending Mobile gaming may lead to out of control spending. Many mobile games operate on a "free to premium" business model. In this model the basic game is free, but extras -performance booting products- within the game cost money. Some players have found themselves spending large sums of money while playing games, in an out of control type of way. These types of games are potentially very dangerous to gamers with any type of addictive personalities or predispositions.

There have also been reports of parents allowing their children to use their devices to play their free games, and their children have somehow managed to purchase items accidentally, with no way for the parent to receive a refund. There was a report recently in the media with a mother trying to get a refund for $16,000 which her six-year-old spent on performance boosting products for his game that he downloaded on his iPad. You can read more on the article here.

Sleep Disruptions Mobile phones and video games may impact the quality of sleep gamers get. Mobile games can disrupt the sleep patterns of children due to prolonged exposure to blue light which inhibits the production of melatonin. Playing video games on mobile phones will continue to prevent children from getting the rest they need because of the thrill of the game itself.

Disruption in sleep patterns, like the ones caused by mobile games, have been linked to behavior issues, and sleepiness during the day. Costly Distraction Mobile gaming is one of the most severe potential risks for distraction when performing another more important activity, such as driving. Video games should never be played while driving even as a passenger. Some mobile games use the internet to facilitate play but they have the ability to push notifications to a player -even when the player is not actively playing- to start playing the game again. Alerts may be sent while the player is driving or in the vehicle with another driver. The driver may want to check the notification, not knowing its origin or the notification front he passengers phone may frighten the driver, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Loss of Productivity Most if not all mobile games have a social aspect or rely on other players taking turns and or participating in the game simultaneously. In games like these, it is common to have alerts and updates throughout the day about various things happening in different games so you can be aware. It is very tempting to take valuable productive time to check on a game or make your play. These micro-transactions can add up very quickly over the course of a day or week. This results in many wasted productivity hours. Mobile games can add to our social life but they can also take away from it significantly. As with all things balance and discipline are the keys.