You've all heard it before - mobile gaming will be huge because everybody has a mobile phone. However, how canmass-market mobile phones ever compete with handheld game decks such as the Sony PSP and NintendoGameboy? These companies have industry know-how, strong gaming brands and large market shares, goodmarketing engines, interfaces optimized for gaming, better graphics, no device compatibility issues, and businessmodels without major regional differences and several operators to deal with.Perhaps they should not compete at all. Mobile phone game developers should take advantage of the specialcharacteristics of the device in developing, marketing and distributing new types of games. These characteristics arerelated to the social nature of the device, e.g. it has an address book that contains your acquaintances and acts as amediator of messages, it is a portable and shareable picture album, and you can even use it for talking. Thiscombined with the openness of the platforms makes it customizable and moddable in ways not possible withhandheld game decks. Also, the network connectiveness of phones combined with extensive coverage of phonenetworks simply cannot be found in any other portable computer. How can these features be leveraged in creatingnew forms of mobile entertainment?Drawing from related phenomena including PC game modding, mobile imaging, Geocaching, Habbo Hotel, andLive-Action Role Play (LARP), we offer fresh perspectives and ideas to professional game developers by presentingresearch findings in mobile gaming and mobile gaming communities. For example, the cross-media and crossplatformnature of LARP, Geocaching, and Habbo Hotel indicates that the combination of mobile phones and gameshas the potential to be richer and more immersive experiences. On the other hand, examples like PC modding,mobile photo competitions, as well as LARP and Geocaching, show that with appropriate tools users will come upwith innovative game content and even novel game concepts. Thirdly, because the phone is a personal devicethrough which the owner can be identified (i.e., phone number), it has key benefits in billing models, personalization,and trust (e.g., buying virtual furniture in Habbo Hotel).
GDC Mobile white paper, Game Developers Conference. San Francisco, USA. March 2005