Paige FTW: Tablet Gaming

I don’t play games on my phone or my tablet — not for very long, anyway. Oh, as regular readers well know, I take my turns dabbling in the likes of Fire Emblem Heroes and Pokemon Shuffle with bright, feverish passion.

But my fire never burns for very long. Inevitably, I get bored. My phone battery life becomes more important than the game.

The longest I ever played a mobile game, I believe, was when I was deeply invested in Avengers Academy, which I played loyally for a whole year … until one day, when the latest event passed in a haze of microtransaction-fueled frustration, and I just never touched the app again.

I’m trying to think about why that is. Why is it that mobile games just don’t hold my attention?

I would argue that developers aren’t designing these games — for the most part — with the intent of creating an immersive, in-depth experience. By nature, they don’t want the game to hold your attention for a full hour. They want you to play for five minutes … but to also come back 12 times in one day.

In this sense, I wonder if mobile gaming is too beholden to its financial model to work as, well, a game. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but most games are free-to-play, with heavy incentives on you paying to play more, collect items and expand the breadth of your experience, if not the depth.

The key is the addictive experience, more so than the quality of experience. While some people — like my boyfriend, who has diligently played Puzzles & Dragons for three years, or my grandma, who is on level 2,832 of Juice Jam — thrive in that kind of system, I do not. I prefer … immersion.

In this environment, it is little surprise that the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita have slowly died out. There’s a reason that Pokemon Go shook the world, while Pokemon Sun and Moon merely shone bright and flickered out.