Honey, I shrunk the mobile games

Fraser MacInnes questions What comes next?

Honey, I shrunk the mobile games

Fraser MacInnes is a mobile games industry professional who cut his teeth writing for Pocket Gamer.

He's now working for Danke Games, a gaming start-up based in the heart of the Black Forest in Germany.

What will future historians say about this age of technological galumphs and hopscotches?

After they've finished guffawing at our ridiculous outfits (they'll be resplendent in tinfoil onesies, no doubt), they'll probably say mobile technology marked the beginning of a personal electronics miniaturization trend.

From pocket devices, things got smaller and more wearable, until they challenged the limits of human interaction.

Is that a speck of dandruff on your tinfoil onesie, or a thousand quantum computers someone accidentally sneezed onto you?

Where would that leave mobile games?

Less is more and more and more

Back to considering current technology... Apple has just released the world's first 64-bit smartphone, while Microsoft's Intel Haswell-equipped Surface 2 is capable of manipulating 6k video files.

The fact is our mobile technology is becoming an oxymoron - as it becomes smaller it becomes more powerful.

It's a trend that seems to belie the ingredients that have made mobile games so successful, but this isn't a column about stating more powerful mobile computing doesn't necessarily mean better mobile games - that much is obvious.

This is a column about the future (and tinfoil onesies).

Well, I've painted myself into a corner with this intro and now I need to tell you what kind of games you can play on a sneezable computer.


Future imperfects

You're riding the bus, beaming a holographic game of Doodle Jump on the window next to you that only you can see.

Maybe it isn't a little green upside-down vacuum cleaner thingy that does the jumping as you flick your fingers - maybe it's a goblinized version of the bus driver you barely glanced at while boarding. A strange sort of lucid dreaming.

What about multi-player gaming on the go?

Standing in the lunch queue, you challenge the person in front of you to some Fruit Ninja. The produce on the shelves surrounding you suddenly starts to float through the air, awaiting the psychic swish of your 'mind sword'.

Merrily cleave that all-day breakfast wrap through its insolent middle - ball your hand into a fist to pause, tap your left foot twice to quit.

Or maybe your evening jog becomes a real life Temple Run, but it's not a game - you really feel fear.

Your local route ceases to be a temperate leafy suburb. Cloyingly humid jungle air fills your nostrils as you gulp down panicked breaths. A bend in the road becomes a heaving, vertiginous ravine, the runner behind you a terrible, marauding hell beast bent on turning you into tenderized meat pulp garnished with Nikes.

But as you complete your planned 5k distance, the precarious rope bridge beneath your feet rushes towards a firm and familiar pavement. You walk home exhausted, cognitively intact and rationally aware your narrow escape is nothing more than an exquisitely executed entertainment experience.

Meanwhile, anonymously-shared augmented realities could be very confusing. Was that you I shot last night? Did you know? Where you playing too? Did I die in your game? Is it really so hard to conceive of games projected directly onto our consciousness?

Before you answer that, how does an Etch A Sketch compare as an experience to Grand Theft Auto V, released just 53 years later?

Rectangles march on...

The issue is mobile gaming is bound by the devices that give the category its first word.

What happens when those devices go away? What does the medium become when it moves from glass rectangles to watches and smart glasses? Beyond, do you have the skills to develop games for interactive tinfoil onsies?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe glass rectangles will stick around - certainly TVs in one form or another have managed to hold onto their living room patch, so why shouldn't small portable screens you can game on keep their place?

If they do, I hope the iPhone 25S and the Surface Pro 22 are morphable rectangles you can control with your mind. They'll also need to be small enough to roll up and fit into the pocket of a tin-foil onesie - obviously.

You can follow Fraser's industry commentary via Twitter.