Welcome To Games Aren’t Numbers

We’re in a golden age of gaming. Video games have never been more popular, and they have never been better either. The reason why can be attributed to one invention: the smartphone.

The industry slowly became more and more complex when arcade games made the move to consoles. If you hadn’t played a game before it was difficult to master, and that’s not to mention the complicated controls and playing systems that you had to navigate to get there in the first place. It made video gaming a niche.

However, in the era of the smartphone, I believe gaming has become a pass-time that anyone can enjoy regardless of age or gender. That’s why we’re in a golden age. Everyone knows how to use their phone and thus everyone knows how to play a game on it. What’s more: because of the advanced technology of these devices, the games are frequently very, very good.

Just a decade ago, it was difficult to imagine innovative and groundbreaking titles being available on your phone. You may have had the likes of Snake and Solitaire on your phone, but games that allowed you to step into fascinating worlds and experience exciting gameplay were only found elsewhere. Phones were primarily just tools for communication – text messaging, calling and e-mailing (if you were really fancy!) Gaming had little or no place on the mobile phone.

But, today, phones contain games that are critically acclaimed, award winning and have the potential to become global phenomenons. We have everything from the immensely popular and addictive ‘Angry Birds’ to the multi-award winning masterpiece by Telltale Games ‘The Walking Dead’ (pictured above).

It’s hard to find a phone that doesn’t provide you with the ability to experience these games. No longer are handsets just storing numbers to call; they are consoles with thousands of puzzles, challenges and missions that you can install from the app store and attempt to complete. Games and numbers are now two very separate entities, but ones that exist on the same device.

I hope to explore many of the best smartphone games, from the biggest blockbusters to the smallest independent releases, on this blog.

Welcome to Games Aren’t Numbers by Number Direct UK.

The Best Free Driving Games For Your Smartphone

In reality, driving isn’t particularly exciting. It’s simply a way of commuting from A to B. You can’t experience the rush of adrenaline from hitting a corner at breakneck speed or the thrill of dashing past another vehicle . Well, okay, you can but you would probably have your licence revoked by the DVLA and action by the police coming your way – not to mention putting people’s lives in danger.

However, these aren’t issues in the fantasy realm of smartphone gaming where driving games can let you live out the extremes impossible in real life. Here are some of our favourite driving games you can download for your smartphone today for free:

Real Racing 3

Created by EA, Real Racing is an award-winning franchise of mobile racing games that is available for both Android and iOS devices. It allows you to race over 45 cars in which you can compete in drag races, tournaments and eliminations.

Asphalt 8

French developers Gameloft have created an exhilarating driving game with Asphalt 8 that is loaded with ramps, jumps and stunts – all of which you can perform in real life sports cars and across exotic locations like Iceland and Venice.

Need For Speed No Limits

The popular racing game comes to smartphone in the form of No Limits, which is available on iOS and Android. It is a reckless street racing game with white knuckle intensity from EA. The Need For Speed franchise began way back in 1994 and has also been adapted into a major movie starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul.

Racing Rivals

Racing Rivals lets you race against the whole world with live opponent which you can connect with in the app. Your players can compete in tournaments from which you will win prizes that allow you to unlock exciting new features from Racing Rivals. It is available on iOS and Android.

CSR Classics

No racing game has graphics quite as impressive as CSR Classics, a game from Natural Motion that lets you get behind the (digital) wheel of legendary cars such as the Ford GT40 MK I and the Mercedes Benz 300 SL Gullwing.

This article is sponsored by HastyBrake.

How Playing A Smartphone Game Might Get A Professional Sportsman Banned

Playing smartphone games are a great way to pass the time,  provide education and improve children’s brain functions. However, a smartphone game also managed to get a professional sportsman in hot water last week. Now he is facing a lengthy ban from his field.

Gaioz Nigalidze is recognised as one of the best chess players in the world. At the tender age of 26, he is ranked 400th in the world and is the Georgian national chess champion. Last week, he was competing in the Dubai Open tournament with a first prize worth $12,000. He had made it through to the sixth round and was facing Tigran Petrosian.

Tigran Petrosian noticed that his opponent was taking very long bathroom breaks after almost all of his moves. He became suspicious and a search was made of the bathroom. Those searching it apparently found a smartphone hidden in the bin with an as-of-yet-unnamed chess game loaded on it. When they opening a Facebook app, Gaioz Nigalidze’s account was allegedly signed in.

A full investigation has been launched into the incident with Gaioz Nigalidze denying that he was cheating. Depending on the outcome of the claim, he could be facing a ban from all chess tournaments for as long as three years.

Could Apple Revolutionise The Smartphone Gaming Industry?

One of the most recent Apple patents could indicate a groundbreaking shift in the way that we play smartphone gaming. They have just taken out exclusive rights for what is called a ‘multi-function input device’. It would essentially create a pop-up home button for future iPhones that would function as a small joystick. This would not only change the way that we play smartphone games forever but would also open up the opportunity for more games to reach this platform.

One of the major complaints from the gaming community about smartphones is that they aren’t able to accommodate the kind of complex gaming that consoles can. That there is only so far that a touchscreen can take a game. Apple’s potential smartphone joystick would be able to fix this issue. You would be able to switch between the standard home button and a joystick by flipping up the button. It would make your smartphone more akin to a Nintendo 3DS or a Playstation Vita handheld console.

Apple has, however, recognised that it could cause some potential problems. The patent explains that it could not only be an issue for people who own cases or protective covers as it would get in the way. Similarly, they explain that there are concerns about a pop-up button as it would expose some of the phone’s hardware, leading to a heightened risk of damage.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the joystick is going to be coming to the next generation of iPhone. There have been plenty of times that the tech giant has patented things in the past and never gone on to use them.

One Of The Best Games Ever Is Now Available For iPad

One of the best games ever has just become available to download on your iPad tablet: Papers, Please. Created by a former developer at Naughty Dog, the company behind the immensely popular Uncharted series, it has been a critical success among gamers since it first arrived on Windows and OS X platforms last August. Between Screens, IGN and many more have given it great reviews.

The game sees you play as an immigration officer on the border of a fictional Eastern European country called Arstotzka. Set during the communist 1980s, your job is to determine who should and who should not be allowed to cross into the nation. It requires following strict and complicated rules such as body-scanning citizens of certain nations, checking for forged stamps, and monitoring height and weight to make sure entrants aren’t potentially smuggling. You are paid for each correct decision made.

The concept of a game in which one plays a border guard sounds tedious, but in practice it’s one of the most morally complex games you will find. Papers, Please demands that you keep your family healthy by paying for food, medicine and heating. Along the way, you will meet a number of dilemmas to ensure this happens – accepting bribes from known criminals at the behest of your job security, for instance, or risking working with terrorist agents for a fee against your own nation.

The simple point-and-click gameplay means that it’s easy for anyone to pick up. Similarly, the game manages to never become dull because of its brilliantly straight-forward graphics which throwback to the 2D aesthetics of old. However, the real draw of the game is how it puts you firmly in its character’s shoes and forces you to endure the same difficult decisions he faces on a daily basis. Giving the player the power to choose what path a protagonist takes is one of the things that make video games unique as an art form – we’ve also seen it done in Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid and The Walking Dead – and it’s executed to perfection here.

Is Capcom Right To Shun The Smartphone Industry?

Earlier this year, it was reported that the popular game developer Capcom was cutting its forecast of their annual earnings by half. It was staggering news to see a company that was once among the most recognisable brands in gaming fall on hard times. The reason for their dire financial situation quickly became clear; while the company was doing well with their Nintento 3DS products, their mobile sales were brutally low.

Most companies in Capcom’s predicament – the developers are looking at a loss or around $48 million for the year – would make it a top priority to turn matters around with their mobile releases. They would pay more attention to the smartphone marketplace where profits are not being made,  now one of the most popular mediums for playing games, and tap into that. Capcom’s only real successes for smartphone were Monster Hunter and Onimusha Soul.

However, it seems that Capcom are not most companies. The Japan based company told the media this week that they had no intentions of making any real commitments to the smartphone market until the devices are ‘more advanced’. A spokesman described how, like the arcade market 30 years ago, the mobile one is a boom that has engulfed many consumers, but its popularity will not last forever. Capcom, therefore, believes that the best option is to develop content that will generate revenue a few years down the line, waiting until mobile phones can achieve much more. This doesn’t mean they won’t be creating new mobile games for the next few years; it simply means that their attentions will be on the years after that.

It is a bold move by Capcom, to attempt to predict how the smartphone market will evolve in the years to come and create games based on those estimated advances. One can’t help but wish them success for attempting to be forward-thinking. However, this might not be the best decision for a company that has suffered losses in the way that Capcom have. The smartphone gaming industry is beginning to bring games into the mainstream in a way that has never been done before. They should be capitalising on that.

How Desert Golfing Changes The Smartphone Game Landscape

One of the most common techniques that video game developers use to keep people hooked on their product is what’s known as the ‘virtual Skinner Box’. The concept is based on a theory by BF Skinner, who argued that a person will do something with more frequency if there is a reward at the end of it. In games, this means that you return to the product time and again in order to achieve something – a high score, a new level, upgrades to your character, etc. This is something that has existed in video games for as long as they have been in existence from Space Invaders to Candy Crush.

The virtual Skinner Box is an unavoidable problem with video games. In order to be entertaining, to keep its players mashing the same series of buttons, they have to have some addictive factor. However, this same concept is somewhat manipulative when it’s misused by ‘freemium’ games that use it to sell add-ons or unlock exclusive content.

A new smartphone game is challenging the concept of the virtual Skinner box though – Desert Golfing from Blinkbat Games. The concept of the game is to pull and launch your golf ball across a two-dimensional desert terrain with the aim of getting it into the hole. Once you have succeeded, you move onto the next level. Then the next. And the next. And the next. And the next. It never ends. There is no high score table, no restart button to play a level again, no goal to achieve and no people to compete against.

Desert Golfing essentially subverts everything we have come to expect from a video game, and it will have its many critics for doing so. Some of the most damning remarks about the game range from it being “pointless” to being “dull”. However, there are just as many gamers who believe this is a truly remarkable experience. It has shot up the iTunes charts since its release a few weeks ago, meanwhile a writer at Arts Technica said it had him “feeling a little philosophical about game design, and even life in general”.

There is a reason for this: the minimalism of the game allows those who download it to focus on the retro beauty of its 2D design, which is both intricate despite its simplicity and nostalgic in the way it channels the aesthetics of early video games from the 1980s. And for those among us who appreciate the art of making smartphone games, rejecting the virtual Skinner box in order to achieve this is a daring and refreshing step.

More Women Are Now Playing Games Than Men

Those who make major blockbuster video games have held the misconception that their target demographic are teenage boys for a long time. Because of this, whether it’s Call Of Duty or Assassins Creed, video game makers have often made their products to suit what they think this demographic wants. Their protagonists have been gun-toting alpha males with female characters (if there are any) reserved to supporting roles as scantily-dressed damsels-in-distress.

It is safe to say that companies like Microsoft and Sony have been detached from reality in doing this, unaware of the seismic change going on in the video game industry as more and more women become interested in the medium. However, the Internet Advertising Bureau’s latest report may finally prove to the likes of Microsoft and Sony what is really happening. It has found that there are now more women playing video games than men.

The preferred console of choice for female gamers is the smartphone with 54 per cent of the people playing games on a phone being girls. It shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise either. The accessible nature of smartphones has opened the door for females who may never understood the appeal of gaming before. Furthermore, they are a place where independent app makers have been able to make games that don’t just conform to the teenage boy demographic, making products that can be accessible to any age range or gender.

So what does this mean for the gaming industry, and in particular the developers of blockbuster console games like Grand Theft Auto or Far Cry? For starters: this should be the final nail in the coffin of an outdated stereotype that gaming is for teenage boys. Game developers need to sit up and pay attention to the figures and realise that their games must, at last, change to meet the demands of this growing market. Games now have to be conscious of gender, giving women stronger roles than just sidekicks, girlfriends and captives.

Can The Xbox and PS3 Hit BioShock Really Work On iOS?

The last post we published on Games Aren’t Numbers talked about the need for developers to release popular titles from older generations of consoles on mobile devices. It discussed how Playstation 2 games like Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto 3 found a new life on smartphones and how the struggling Nintendo would benefit from similar action.

However, we never expected that just weeks later the video game developer 2K would commit to the ambitious feat of bringing the recent Xbox and PS3 smash-hit BioShock to iOS. After all, while adapting Playstation 2 or Nintendo 64 releases for mobile platforms should be fairly straightforward, the concept of making something as visually and technically complex as Bioshock compatible for iPhones and iPads seems almost impossible.

For those unaware of the game, BioShock is regarded as one of the high points of the Xbox 360 and PS3 eras. A first-person shooter set in the underwater world of Rapture, the game has been celebrated for the immense detail of its graphics as the player explores the sunken wreckage of the game’s world. Similarly, praise has been heaped on the amazing mechanics that let you scavenge, shoot and use futuristic powers as you encounter the game’s villains. That’s not to mention the gripping story that contains one of the gaming medium’s biggest twists.

2K are hoping to bring BioShock to iOS devices in a ‘true recreation’ of the award-winning game. But can it really work?

On a purely surface level, BioShock is unlike any other game you can install on your iPhone. It’s not something you can tune into for 10 minutes on the way to work; it is an epic experience that requires the devotion of large chunks of your time. And what of the controls? The combat mechanics were complex enough for Xbox 360 and PS3 users who had to utilise every button to take on the game’s foes. It’s difficult to think how 2K will make it playable on a 5 inch touch screen.

However, these challenges seem positively simple compared to the technical complexities of bringing Bioshock to iOS. Smartphones and iPads are surely not going to be able to handle the sheer level of detail the game requires. The data capacity on smartphones simply cannot come close to that of a console. Lagging, low-quality graphics and enormous loading times will likely ruin the experience.

2K have a huge challenge on their hands as they hope to bring their first-person shooter classic to a new audience of game players. There will be some gigantic hurdles to overcome along the way if they hope to succeed. But can they really pull it off?  We will find out when the game hits iOS platforms later this year.

There’s Still Hope For Nintendo, And It Might Be Smartphones

The first console I ever purchased was the Nintendo 64 and it dominated most of my young life. I vividly remember wasting away the days in front of the TV jumping into each magical land of mysteries and challenges in Super Mario 64 and trying to gain enough points to win the Star Cup in Mario Kart.

However, Nintendo is now a dying name. Their Wii console was incredibly successful and introduced gaming to the masses, but since it has seen nothing but failure. They have quite simply been totally eclipsed by the likes of Microsoft and Sony.

However, there is a very simple way for Nintendo to turn around their recent bad luck, and it involves smartphones.

One of the problems with console games is that as technology inevitably develops older generations die out and give way to new ones. So too do the games on them. The aforementioned Nintendo 64, like its competitor the Playstation One,  is all but extinct now. The only place you will find the clunky console or the game cartridges is through websites like eBay. They’re so old, furthermore, that it’s unlikely they will still work — at least for very long.

Yet, there is still a huge demand for this generation of consoles and its games. Since my Nintendo 64 died a few years ago I have resorted to finding an online emulator to play the games through my mac. So too have millions of others. The aforementioned Super Mario 64 has been downloaded 9 million times to play through an emulator. The punch-em-up Super Smash Bros. has been downloaded a whopping 11 million times. Meanwhile, one look at eBay shows that a cartridge of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, for those lucky enough to still have a working Nintendo 64, is going for the staggering price of £65.

Of course, Nintendo don’t make any money from this.

A few years ago, Playstation realised there was a high demand for their previous generation of games and found a way to capitalise on it — they re-released the highlights for smartphones. The fun taxi racing game Crazy Taxi is available on app stores for a cheap £2.99, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 can be bought for £1.99, even Grand Theft Auto 3 has its own smartphone version. All three and many more have been resounding successes.

It wouldn’t be hard for Nintendo to follow suit and revive their classic titles as smartphone games. After all, they are simple enough to adapt for smartphones and tablets, and the number of people who have resorted to alternative means to play them surely prove there’s a profit to be made.

People would soon be wasting away the days playing their classic games once again. But instead of plonking yourself in front of the TV, you could be exploring the kingdom of Hyrule from Zelda: Ocarina Of Time during your lunch break, or trying to shoot your way through the bunker of Goldeneye on the train.