Smartphones: Taking the Anti- Out of Anti-Social Gaming


Have you ever walked down the street and bumped into a crowd of disgruntled pedestrians while playing your most addictive smartphone game?

Ever stayed at home, staring into a rectangular screen, fearing the light of day? No, probably not, but this is the impression that most people have of the mobile gamer: head stuck in the clouds, bumping into the elderly and so on.

But this certainly isn’t the case, as smartphone users are some of the most social tech lovers out there, through having messengers, emails, video calls or other forms of social media right in their pocket at any given time; they are connected to others no matter the circumstance.

A recent study, via Polygon, shows that out of the 155 million Americans that play video games regularly, 39% of the most frequent gamers quench their gaming thirst through social titles. This, of course, places an impetus on smartphone companies to implement social functions to their games/apps, no matter the specifications required, in order to meet the demand of an increasingly connected society.

So why is this the case? The portability, ease of use of smartphones, their ability to run high and low-spec games with increasingly powerful GPUs, and their inclusion of many social apps are definite factors, considering the Facebook Messenger app’s recent launch of Instant Games. These built-in HTML-5 titles that be played for the domination of scoreboards against your Facebook friends while maintaining the experience of an online chat room.

Well-known franchises such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Snake compete for mindshare against newer games like Endless Lake and Super Dash.

The biggest success story in terms of Facebook’s social gaming presence would of course be Candy Crush Saga, an addictive match-3 title that allows you peruse the high scores of friends – or potential adversaries, if you are so inclined. The game, as of October 2016, is amassing 149 million monthly users on Facebook. This is in part thanks to Candy Crush’s pick-up-and-play nature, as well as the fact that it requires little time investment from the player; booting up the game for 10 minutes, while on a short bus ride, is an ideal scenario. That is the case with games that are played in short bursts or rounds, which is common for smartphone and casual games. Its colourful graphics are another factor, with the beautifully large screens and the high resolutions of the iPhone 7 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, making textures and icons pop considerably.

Other casual titles help to bolster the social element of these quick-burst mobile titans. Chat rooms, which are provided as an accompaniment as you play bingo online at William Hill on a desktop browser or through the site’s mobile app, allow players to retain healthy friendships through chat-room interaction in addition to trying their luck at bingo. Dedicated servers combined with modern high-speed internet allow these social sessions to continue for long periods of time, and a range of different bingo games are available, including Deal or No Deal and Rainbow Riches, with each being combined with a dedicated chat room. The meshing of casual bingo game with an engaging platform for chatting and community epitomises the smartphone gaming experience, as accessibility and addictive gameplay have led to new levels of social vibrancy.

Even games that would have been touted as single-player only just a few years ago, like Hitman Go or Plants vs. Zombies 2, have been able to increase their social presence through the implementation of achievements, trophy systems or the iPhone’s Game Center service. Connectivity with others has never been easier, and thanks to the data available on each smartphone, players can now remain social even while playing through more singular experiences. It’s also worth noting that the technological leaps on modern smartphones allow games such, as the ones mentioned above, to rival the console experience, not only through instant connections with online friends but through graphical fidelity and the smoothness of play.

It is then up to the members of the mobile industry to take on and to further improve this bout of social gaming. Increasing connectivity through games can only have beneficial effects for users, as it brings them closer, and allows a previously isolated experience to become community-driven.

The rise of the smartphone has thrust gamers into an immersive environment of social connectivity and community engagement. Gone are the days of the lone gamer, as even the most solitary of players have the opportunity to compete with friends, share stories and witty remarks, and keep that social connection alive.