From augmented reality sensations like Pokémon Go to variations on Pac-Man and other classics, today’s mobile devices can store hundreds of games. But most weren’t created yesterday. In fact, they have a history dating back to the 1970s.
To understand that history, NC State’s Mobile Gaming Research Lab has launched the Retro Mobile Gaming Database (RMGD), an online, publicly searchable, rich database for game scholars and game enthusiasts of all ages.
“Knowing the history of early mobile games helps us better understand today’s mobile gaming culture,” says Adriana de Souza e Silva, NC State professor of communication and director of the Mobile Gaming Research Lab. “But many of those old mobile consoles are hard to find. And because some of the early games were designed to be played in specific places, at specific times, they’ve all but disappeared.
“This database helps us see that the games we play don’t come out of nowhere, but are products of years of experimentation within academic and industry circles.”
The public is warmly invited to contribute to or search the database. Among its features, the database provides a map identifying where games were developed and lists games with similar features.
For now, though, test your mobile gaming knowledge in this quiz developed by Adriana de Souza e Silva.
What year was geocaching created?
A. 2000. Although GPS (Global Positioning System) has existed since the 1960s, games like Geocaching were only possible after the Clinton administration removed the GPS signal degradation for civilian users. As a result, anyone on Earth with a GPS device could locate objects with a precision of a few meters.
What game was pre-installed on the Hagenuk MT-2000, the first mobile phone to include a game?
B. Tetris. Many people believe Snake — released in 1997 on the Nokia 6110 — was the first game on a mobile phone. In fact, Tetris had already been out for three years.
The first multiplayer game for a mobile phone was played on the Nokia 6110. This game was:
D. Snake. Players could connect their mobile phones via an infrared port, which allowed them to play the game together. Nokia released Snake in 1997.
What was the first console to have interchangeable cartridges?
C. Milton Bradley Microvision. Interchangeable game cartridges were a game changer: players no longer had to purchase a whole new gaming console each time they wanted to play a new game. Instead, they could simply buy a new game.
What was the first commercial location-based mobile game?
D. Botfighters (Sweden). Botfighters, released in Sweden by startup It’s Alive, is considered the first commercial location-based mobile game. The game’s objective was to locate other player-robots using GSM network cell identification and engage in a battle to destroy them by "shooting" text messages at them. Attacks and counter-attacks were carried out by SMS commands initially, but later the game upgraded to a Java-based graphic user interface (GUI).
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