In case you are one of the new entrants in the mobile game world, you must have heard the phrase “mobile games are easy to play” at least once.
I must confess to this being the impression given to me by game developers, publishers, media and some avid gamers, but to be honest, it’s a misguided belief that mobile games are easy to play, and it has to do with the way these games are designed, as well as the human mind.
The first thing to consider when playing mobile games is design.
A mobile game is basically a frame of information that the user interacts with.
All of them are designed with the assumption that the user will be able to scroll a small rectangle around it to access the next game panel, just as one scrolls through a web page on a mobile phone.
The design is then based on movement. The words have to be constantly placed on the top so that it’s always easy to read.
The game has to keep the human in mind. The user has to be engaged, or bored to death, within two seconds to start another game.
In other words, the designs and methods used are always designed for immediate gratification, which is definitely not the case for what we see in the PC and console games.
"The term “mobile game” is what it is today because of simplicity and ease of use."
There’s always an initial learning curve when learning a new gaming platform. For instance, once you are accustomed to playing a game on your desktop, it can take a while to play on your smartphone.
The same goes for the new digital distribution platforms like Steam or GOG.
If you have heard about big budget games, you must have had the impression that PC games require a lot of technical know-how, and that they are almost impossible to play.
In case of console games, it is very common for people to complain about a game’s difficulty, saying that they have a gaming addiction because they can’t stop playing the games, and that they need to be in constant contact with a PC.
One can’t go in and play a game that takes over two hours to complete, it is more than time commitment. You can’t spend eight hours a day playing a game.
Even when one is getting used to playing a game on a mobile device, it is still quite demanding.
“Multi-tasking for prolonged periods of time is not advisable for mobile games.”
The content is, arguably, the main concern of the game. While many mobile games are basically mobile versions of PC and console games, one can also have unique games for mobile that are completely different from the rest.
Think about it, there are thousands of games on the market, and thousands of people are downloading them. How can one game stand out in such a vast sea of games?
That’s why a game developer must create a unique mobile game to have a chance of standing out.
“Whenever one is playing the mobile game, they can only play the first 30 minutes or so. It is hard to continue without having to search for a save point, or fight their way through a game you just started.”
Mobile games rely on text interactions, and players need basic and intuitive text-based skills to play the games. One must be able to quickly make their way through different game panels on mobile.
Let’s say, for example, you want to continue playing the game, you’ll need to tap on the content within the text panels on the left, and vice versa.
A person should be able to complete the game without looking at the game’s panels for a significant period of time.
Text interactions are faster than touch interactions because they are easier for people to use. This might be good for people with limited finger dexterity, or people who are on a very limited phone model with a very small screen.
All mobile games have sliders for feedback and a long text or tap response time in order to display the details of the game.
One thing that makes the mobile game experience challenging for the player is the difficulty of correctly tapping the icon on a mobile device.
“Every mobile game is difficult, and most game developers are not trying to make the game so that it is easy to play.”
It is important to understand the scale and scope of speed and play time for mobile games. It is important for players to know how long they can spend on a game in order to keep their mobile device usage within the limit.
Speed, in this context, refers to a player’s skill level when playing the game, the playing experience, and the time it takes to complete the game.
To properly gauge the gameplay speed, one needs to compare the time it takes to complete the game.
Let’s say it is a fantasy MMORPG game, and the player can spend 20 minutes to do an entire dungeon.
The game requires that the player tap the areas of the screen continuously. The quick reaction time the player has when they are in a game like this is essential.
A player has to be able to read the messages on the screen in order to complete the dungeon, and their ability to react to the messages accurately is crucial.
Obviously, people can spend a lot of time on these kinds of games, especially if they have a mobile phone with a pretty good screen and an interface that allows them to read the text inputs quickly.
However, mobile games have a finite amount of time the players can spend on them.
“A huge percentage of the players may spend 2-3 hours playing a mobile game. That means there are only 2 hours to complete your dungeon. You have to read and click on every single item.”
Therefore, the playing experience needs to be dynamic, based on how much the player has to pay attention and respond to the information on the game’s interface. It also has to be fast, intuitive, and user-friendly.
It is also important for a mobile game to be inclusive design because it allows people with disabilities to enjoy the mobile game.
To develop a game in inclusive design, developers need to approach it from a totally different perspective.
This means the game is highly accessible to the player, and it makes sense for the game developer to keep their game simple, the interactions simple, and the game easy to understand.