Today, we live in a world where the iPhone is 4 generations old and well on its way to world domination alongside the Android platform which has emerged as a dominant player in the space. Sony and Microsoft have both released motion sensing controllers and Nintendo, not to be outdone, has released in 2011 the world’s first 3D gaming device. No longer just a niche platform, social gaming has risen to lofty heights, approaching $1 billion in the U.S.
If 2011 is remembered as the year that games on mobile platforms grew quickly and games on social networks continued to mature, 2012 is quickly becoming the year that mobile games ecosystems are beginning to mature as well. Given massive changes in the Facebook monetization ecosystem over the last year, last year’s hit games are fighting for their lives, and new developers and games are climbing the leaderboards. At the same time, larger players are consolidating smaller studios and teams, investing heavily in a portfolio approach across mobile and social, and large media companies and traditional game developers continue to plot their social and mobile gaming strategies.
Why do people play games? Yet if anyone truly knew this, he or she would become rich as a consultant. No one can exactly describe why people like to play games, though many have tried. Why games are enjoyable? What is it that makes you enjoy playing games? Some people love the mental stimulation that word games or puzzles provide. Other people love to play mindless little addictive games that pass the time between periods of activity and yet still others play in order to have a friendly (or sometimes not so friendly) competition among friends. But no matter why it is the games that you play can be so addictive that you find yourself taking up most of your day playing them.
Notice I haven’t used the word “fun” – that’s because many people who enjoy playing games would not call them fun. Take chess as an example. It can be interesting, even fascinating, but many chess players do not describe it as fun.
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the nature of fun.