Systems like Nintendo’s Wii helped pave the way for a new type of gamer by doing away with the old stereotype of a lonesome teen sitting glossy-eyed in front of a TV screen with a controller in gripped tightly in his sweaty palms. It created pictures of families, young and old, in a brightly-lit living room playing Wii Bowling, the blank, open-mouthed stares now replaced with smiling faces and images of people having fun.
Apple’s iPhone has stealthily made its move on a similar audience by landing in the hands of business men and working women everywhere in the form of a smartphone. Now, more than ever, these so-called “casual” gamers are emerging in the form of moms, dads and grandparents who have traditionally avoided video games. Most of these titles come in the form of simple, to-the-point games that even the least-skilled gamer can easily grasp. Such games as Bejeweled, Peggle and Word Fu attract curious iPhone owners and often keep them on the hunt for similar content.
This sort of success is no doubt thanks to the fact that people carry their phones with them everywhere. As the world becomes increasingly mobile, and smartphones become more of the norm, we will continue to see the growth of all types of gamers. Like Nintendo has done with the Wii, the iPhone can bridge the gap between the middle-aged men at the airport awaiting their next flight, the women in their mid-30’s sitting in the waiting room and college-age kids (often console gamers) killing time between classes on their phone simply because they happen to have it in their pocket.
Whether Apple truly envisioned this kind of success with their smartphone will never be known by the general public. They can give us all the PR-talk they can buy; they can say they saw this coming years ago, but the most likely story is that they took a gamble, and it paid off.
Despite that, whether or not the iPhone took off as a gaming device may have been of less concern to Jobs back then; it was before the boom of casual games. Now, however, the company is embracing the ‘Apple as a gaming platform’ idea, as was seen in January when Electronic Arts and Gameloft made special appearances at the iPad unveiling. Each of the developers showed off games on the iPad, one of which was exclusive to the device, Gameloft’s first-person shooter, Nova.
Even if Apple didn’t realize the potential for a gaming device back then, they do now. As do millions of new players who purchased one to keep track of the email and contact lists while on the go, but are now tracking their high score on Peggle Nights. The new gamer is mom, dad, sister…everyone.