Mobile phone gaming has never quite taken off, for many reasons, some perhaps subconscious – it's not a 'real' gaming device it's a phone! – and some perhaps more to do with mobile phone gaming's distribution issues and overall costs. Anyone that's ever tried to download and install a regular mobile phone game will have no doubt experienced some issue or other.
The Nokia N-Gage seemed to be the first phone to truly take gaming seriously, with games being sold in stores, in little plastic cases – with instructions – just like a 'regular' game. Problem was, despite the N-Gage actually being quite a nice platform – well I liked mine! – the device was never really taken seriously as a gaming platform by consumers and eventually flopped.
Enter Apple, a company that seems to value itself more on the creative side of utilities than gaming. Sure there's been rumors of Apple dipping its toe into gaming – pretty much every couple of years a new Apple gaming console rumor appears – but for the most part Apple owners realize they're buying into a great operating system that doesn't value gaming as its main selling point. Apple too are known for their MP3 players – iPods – and seen somewhat as an artiste's tech manufacturer of choice.
With the release of the iTouch and more recently the new 3G iPhone however, things would seem to be taking a very gaming turn and the development side at least may well be far more open to games with gay and lesbian content than any other gaming platform presently available. The open source nature of the iPhone development tools mean anyone with some programming knowledge can work on a game and have it up and running for the masses without the bureaucracy that stems the flow of other platforms.
This may potentially mean gay and lesbian content in mobile games that is more readily available than on other platforms because the games being developed for the iPhone are made by anyone with a little programming knowledge and a copy of the iPhones SDK (software development kit). Does the ease of nature and distribution of the Apple SDK and Applications store mean we will see more lesbian (and gay) content in games, or will this be yet another underutilized development opportunity for those talented gay and lesbian software developers out there?
Given the ease with which programming and distribution – via the Apps Store – has been made by Apple, one would imagine it is only a matter of time before some smart gay programmers are out there releasing gay themed RPG's, utilities and other software on the device. Apple are only charging a bare minimum set up cost for the ADK ($100 at time of writing) and they take care of all distribution and credit card transactions (though they take a 30% cut – which is more than fair) linked to the software developed (or you can put it up as a free application).
Technically the iPhone also has additional features your other gaming handhelds lack. Features like the GPS and camera could add additional functionality to games. These aside though the accessibility of the iPhone for developers is where it's way ahead of the pack and with this accessibility should – hopefully – come an array of games which throw old conventions out the window. Innovation in hardware is one thing, but what some suggest gaming has lacked for some time is innovation in game development (though a few have appeared recently on other download services such as XBLA and PSN). With such a free and open game development strategy in place, one has to wonder how long it will be before we see a slew of gay RPG's in which characters can hook up with the same gender, gay utilities that give you access to information pertinent to you as a gay person and other applications featuring gay content.
One would imagine with the slew of iPhone applications presently flying to and off the service, at some point Apple will need to upgrade its categories in the App Store to include a sub category system for ease of sorting and finding. All categories should really feature sub menus of genre. Hopefully the lifestyle category won't be where gay & lesbian gets tucked away only and that games will include a sub category of gay & lesbian content. Of course for that to occur, gay and lesbian developers need to start making content.
Surely it will happen… surely.
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