Just two months ago, I was a mobile gaming fiend. At any given time, you probably could have found me tucked away in the back corner at a local Starbucks squeezing in some hardcore mobile gaming between articles. Google had been running a promotion to celebrate the launching of their rebranded digital store, Google Play (which used to be Android Market). Naturally, I scooped up some of the most acclaimed games and applications on Android – ones that I had been eying for months – for a fraction of the normal price.
Over the course of two years, I spent almost $150 (or possibly more) on mobile games and I figured it was time to finally play some of the ones I had never gotten around to. Almost every day, as soon as I submitted my last article, I would kick back, throw in some headphones and settle in for a couple hours of mobile gaming. Shadowgun, Need For Speed, Modern Combat 3, Grand Theft Auto III, etc. I played them all, just as intently as I would a console game, and I enjoyed them almost as much as I would have a full-fledged console game.
At one point, my friend and I even took mobile gaming to the next level. We were sitting at the Waffle House just a few miles from my house at 2:00 AM using my tablet as a wireless LAN to connect multiple smartphones via Wi-Fi. We raced each other in local multiplayer Asphalt 6: Adrenaline and played a few free-for-all matches in Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation before our phones died. To be honest, I was pretty impressed by how frictionless and flawless gameplay actually was. It was incredibly nerdy, ridiculous and fun. I had new respect for mobile gaming.
I would also play multiplayer games throughout the day, as a periodical metal break. Draw Something was still relatively new then and Zynga games were increasingly popular amongst many of my friends and family members who had just taken the smartphone plunge. I started Words With Friends, Hanging With Friends and Draw Something matches with countless family members, colleagues and friends.
Gradually, spending an hour or two before bed trying to catch up on all the gaming became a routine. I could never catch up on all of the games in a single sitting, and what used to be a fun, relaxing thing to do in my spare time became a constantly nagging chore. I would wake up every morning to anywhere from 10 to 50 notifications from the three games, stating it was once again my turn to make a move or draw something.
Last week was the final straw. I forfeited all of my Words With Friends and Hanging With Friends matches due to inactivity, and I haven't drawn anything for anyone in well over a month. Playing a word from my poor selection of tiles or trying to draw "Wedgie" was no longer fun; it was so mentally taxing and repetitive that I couldn't take it any more, even if I was beating my mother by nearly 200 points with five tiles to go.
I no longer play any of the games I bought either. And, at some point, I quit looking for new ones. The extent of my mobile gaming has dwindled to playing friends one-on-one in checkers, chess or air hockey via iPad.
Aside from the monotony of turn-based, multiplayer games, I'm not sure what changed exactly. In a matter of days, it's as if I went from not being able to get enough of mobile games to not playing any. Not a single one. I still play some console games from time to time, like Skyrim, FIFA 2012 and a few others. But, for now and for whatever reason, my gaming from a smartphone or tablet has almost completely and inexplicably stopped.
And, for the record, I still think tablets and smartphones have a bright future in the gaming industry. Personally, I wouldn't mind having a tablet as the brain of all my entertainment needs – serious, console-like gaming, wireless Netflix and music streaming so an entertainment system, etc. But I still have a few more years before that will be viable.
Tell me, folks. Do you go through phases with mobile games? Do you go from playing them compulsively to not at all? Or do you simply dislike them all to begin with?