Mobile phone games: understanding the user experience
chapterposted on 06.07.2007, 08:50 by Hayley Dixon, Val MitchellVal Mitchell, Susan D.P. Harker
Mobile gaming is viewed by the mobile communication industry as one of the ‘killer applications’ for future mobile services. Fuelled by the success of games such as Nokia’s Snake and the continuing popularity of online and console gaming, the drive is to develop ever more sophisticated and engaging gaming experiences for mobile users. However the current mobile gaming experience in terms of graphics, interaction mode and content more closely resembles that presented by personal computer games of 20 years ago than anything evoked by today’s console based offerings. Despite such limitations the appeal of mobile games continues to grow. Market research conducted by Nokia estimates that 85% of people with the game ‘Space Impact’ on their phones have tried it out and 45% play it everyday (Robens, 2001). Mobile gaming research has predominantly focused on the “mobility of gaming” (Kuivakari 2001). Such research seeks to exploit the entertainment potential of ubiquitous technologies and augmented reality, making both the proximity of others and the mobile environment itself part of the gaming experience. (See for example Bjork et al (2001), Brunnberg (2002). The research reported here aims to provide insight into what motivates people to play existing mobile phone games, despite their limitations, and seeks to identify elements of the current mobile gaming experience that should be preserved within future games. The continuing convergence of computer, consumer and communications technologies within mobile devices is raising many unknowns about how users will perceive these devices and therefore how best to design appropriate form structures and user interfaces (Sacher and Loudon 2002). This research examines the existing convergence of game playing and telephony within the mobile phone and provides early indications of how people may approach future converged devices.