The History of Mobile Video Games: Part I
Welcome to a three part journey on the History of Mobile Gaming: from the good old Nokia Snake to addictive smart phone games, we’ll guide you through the creation of one of the most used features in mobile.
Mobile Gaming describes the concept of playing Video-Games on a Mobile Phone. A given in the age of smartphones, but an impressive feat before the turn of the millennium.
In 1993 Siemens managed to run “Klotz” (a version of Tetris) on the S1, however, there was a registered patent for games on mobile phones, and the company was not convinced it would be a positive investment, so the game was deleted…except it really wasn’t. Instead of deleting all the work they had put into running the game, the engineers decided to hide it in the phone, if you know the “correct technique” (and you own a 600-gram black and white phone released to the market in 1994) you can play it.
In the same year, in November, IBM showed the world the first smartphone, the Simon Personal Communicator (or IBM Simon) allowed the user to make phone calls, send emails, use a calculator, schedule appointments and more, all in one device. It also had a game called Scramble. It played like a 15-puzzle and would allow the player to choose from multiple backgrounds and play using the touchscreen pen.
For some time, however, it was believed that the first mobile game to be commercially available was Tetris on the Hagenuk MT-2000. Launched in 1994 the MT-2000 was one of the first phones to have soft keys (keys which change functions depending on the UI context) but it was also the first to have a built-in antenna (it ran along the side of the phone instead of sticking out of the top). Sadly, mobile gaming was not the selling point that is today and the MT-2000 would not be successful and Hagenuk would eventually abandon the phones market and gaming would be abandoned on mobile for a while.
To be awoken in 1997 by a Finnish telecommunications company which you might have heard about. Nokia would release their 6110 model with a pre-installed game called Snake. Taking inspiration from Blockade and Nibbler, Snake was a simple game with short game time, perfect for mobile, it would prove to be a bigger success than its predecessors and Nokia would be a successful mobile company until today.
(image via MEL Magazine)
For a while games on mobile devices remained on this path, every year more and more phones would release with their own games, until, in the early 2000’s new technologies would emerge which would allow developers to create their own games and phone users to buy and play any games on their phones.
End of Part I.
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