Forget about the PSP, forget about the DS! I haven’t even heard those names mentioned in my circle in almost a year now. But names like Temple Run, Angry Birds, Asphalt, Words with Friends, these seem to be hot mentions in conversations even with the not so tech savvy. It is the time of the mobile gamer and the developers have gone into high gear.

Game studios like Gameloft, Zynga and Rovio who specialise in the mobile domain are pushing the envelope with a more refined edge in this field. As the mobile handset evolves into a more powerful computing device, the games have also become more engaging. Graphics and physics have been expanded to meet the ever increasing need of the lay mobile gamer to “stay in the game”, so to speak, and challenge themselves both mentally and, let’s face it, physically, at least as far as our finger dexterity is concerned.

With new launches like Wild Blood on iOS taking on the Unreal Engine and pushing out graphics to rival some of the best PSP games that made it out, developers are only getting better and better. Sure there a still a few kinks but we’re a long way from ‘Snake’ or Pac Man. I’ve seen people shun away from the crowd at a party, sit in a dark corner, basking in the soft glow of a mobile display making faces that could rival a constipated patient in a psych ward twisting and contorting their fingers and arms around to control onscreen objects. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they were committing a rather lewd act in a public space. That might have been easier to deal with.

Getting to be an addictive past time

Getting to be an addictive past time

Mobile gaming at social gatherings, boring family dinners, or even just waiting for a dentist to take his mini pickaxe to your teeth is like a sort of moral dyslexia. Although in some cases, it can also be a source of stress release.

It’s reached a stage when the art of bragging about one's gaming prowess is also a large ego boost. Posting high scores on leader boards or social networks can be invigorating, I have to shamelessly admit, and also heightens a sense of deft defiance. Beat that chumps! Is what it translates to in literal terms.

All of these symptoms seem to lead to the conclusion that most us have seemingly become addicts to the mobile display and the fast paced action at our fingertips. It’s hard to tear away from the game sometimes as we cling to that glimmer of hope that our onscreen character will prevail and bring the high score. 

We also tend to make sometimes irrational excuses about how a few of the puzzle games help improve concentration and focus, help us expand our minds with puzzles and brain teasers. At the end of the day, they’re just excuses to explain our defunct lack of social behaviour. 

And naturally, like most addictions this doesn’t always come cheap. Most of the games, while initially free, at least on Android, require updates and upgrades in order to progress. I’ve spent a good Rs. 600 in the last month only on upgrades for games that tend to get harder as they progress. Game developers also understand how the addiction works, and while possibly unintentional, are akin to the peddlers or rather, the drug lords sitting behind veiled curtains selling this smack. 

I say it’s time to take a step back, put the game on pause and take a long hard look at reality. A break once in a while to peer into the wondrous world of mechanically inclined pigs and flesh eating zombies is ok, but let’s not get too sucked in. 

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