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The world of unknown games

Posted on 12th Sep 2012 at 07:49 by David Hing with 13 comments

David Hing
Slouching awkwardly against one of the hand rails on the train during my daily commute the other week I found myself captivated by a gentleman sat in my line-of-sight playing something on his iPad. Until his gaze flicked up causing me to nonchalantly drift my eyes away and pretend I was just glaring at everything in the carriage like a normal person and not just him, I had been transfixed by whatever it was that he was playing because of one simple fact: I had no idea what it was.

If you are at all plugged into the games industry, it's rare that you are surprised by any new releases. Even with the indie scene, a lot of the more significant and interesting titles generate enough pre-release hype that although they may be innovative or unusual in some way, you're still not exactly surprised by them.

This was different though. It's not that the title looked particularly enjoyable, or even terribly well polished, it was just that there was absolutely no recognition of any of the artwork or style of game. Not only had I no idea what the title was called, I would have been unable to give a rough guess of the developer and actually a little hard-pressed to reliably tie it down to a particular genre.

It's not the first time this has happened at all. Being nosey and glancing at what people play on their phones will a third of the time reveal Angry Birds, a third of the time Solitaire and a third of the time something completely unrecognisable.

The world of unknown games
Birds, cards, or potential madness

It's easy to see why this is the case. There is a daily deluge of games unleashed onto the Apple Appstore and Google Play, making it impossible to keep up with everything. A couple of news outlets make a valiant outlet, but there is a never-ending quagmire of games freely or cheaply available, catering to the many weird and wonderful tastes of your average smartphone owner.

The scenario reminds me of a simpler time in gaming, a time before the internet where a handful of titles were marketed incredibly hard with the rest left to be spread gradually through word of mouth among peer groups, or were quite simply found in a shop and bought on the off-chance it would be ok.

The iOS and Android markets inspire a sense of nostalgia, not in their wares but in the system itself. They encourage discovery and give you the chance to uncover hidden gems. The Appstore reminds me of going to visit my Amiga-owning friend and being introduced to games I'd never seen before and would quite likely never see again.

It's impossible to go back to that time before everyone knew everything, and even if it were possible, it would be a bad idea. The gaming collective having a persistent always-on knowledge of what is out and what is going to be imminently released is the lifeblood of the industry and to remove that would be to see everyone on all sides of the equation suffer.

However, seeing this completely unknown game being played by a complete stranger on the train made me want to branch out of my comfort zone a little more and explore the gaming unknown. Be it the mobile gaming markets or the less mainstream end of the indie scene, the next Minecraft analogue that nobody has played yet is out there and I want to find it.

13 Comments

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rak500 12th September 2012, 09:28 Quote
I play Xconstruction and Spira defense on Android, they're quite nice.
On iOS, the latest game I found was Splice, it's somewhat odd but novel which it is quite good. Sworcery on iOS is quite good too, it is a bit strange but nothing looks like it and it manages to create a little world of its own.
It's nice to see a renewal in the game industry, where it's not all about racing, RPG or FPS...
Jezcentral 12th September 2012, 09:55 Quote
Blimey, buying games based purely on the box? I remember doing that. It was 1993, and the game was Legacy by Microprose. It wasn't great, but UFO: Enemy Unknown was, as was Master of Orion, Civilisation, Master of Magic, F117-A and F19 Stealth Fighter. The early nineties were great, and Microprose was a great developer/publisher.
Guinevere 12th September 2012, 10:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jezcentral
Blimey, buying games based purely on the box? I remember doing that. It was 1993

I remember doing that. It was 1982.
PlayedStation 12th September 2012, 10:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jezcentral
Blimey, buying games based purely on the box? I remember doing that. It was 1993

I remember doing that. It was 1982.

I remember doing that, it was 1066
blacko 12th September 2012, 10:43 Quote
I bought a game because of the box....

Zool
Saivert 12th September 2012, 11:23 Quote
I would be playing more Android games if it wasn't for the fact that most games do not support my Samsung Galaxy Ace even though its processor is more than capable of playing anything purely 2D based. Forget 3D. Most games are 2D anyways.
I do no understand why the Play store says my phone is not supported when it really would be able to run a title without much effort. Something seriously fishy going on.
mi1ez 12th September 2012, 13:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacko
I bought a game because of the box....

Zool
Classic!

I just took one look at this post and hopped straight on Play to get World of Goo which has been sadly missing from my phone up until now.

As the sun set over the last of the hills, one of the Goo Balls seemed to say...
...that life sure seemed like a giant physics simulation!
billysielu 12th September 2012, 19:12 Quote
SSCU Trench Wars is the best thing ever, google it, srsly.
SimonStern 12th September 2012, 20:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlayedStation
I remember doing that, it was 1066
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
I remember doing that. It was 1982.

I remember doing that way back too. Back when you could because games weren't so outrageously overpriced. It wasn't much dropping $20 on a game even if it turned out to be crap. I'm not dropping $65+ on the chance I might like a game.

Those were the good ol days, I got quite a few games back then, games I would have never played but I picked them up because the box/description/pictures looked good and they were cheap. I remember I bought Warsong/Langrisser for the Genesis for $19.99 back in '91 or so, just because of the box, and I was just recently playing it again a couple months ago. Now that's value...

Sorry, nostalgia got to me.
Gunsmith 12th September 2012, 20:16 Quote
i don't understand this fascination of gaming on a phone.
Jezcentral 12th September 2012, 21:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
i don't understand this fascination of gaming on a phone.
Because we can't take our PCs to the toilet?
Sloth 12th September 2012, 22:31 Quote
I'm sure plenty of people have their memories of before this time, but it never ceases to amaze me how all of the games I played as a kid (N64, PS1, GBA, etc) are so commonly available in used games shops. Compared to today there weren't nearly as many games! A thrift shop, not even a dedicate games store mind, had almost all of my cherished N64 collection in their used game stock! And some of there weren't exactly big hits, there just weren't as many titles so even the obscure games pop up.

Now my Steam collection over the last five years has almost grown larger than my childhood games collection counting all consoles combined and that's still just a fraction of the games out there! It's magical and frightening at the same time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
i don't understand this fascination of gaming on a phone.
Neither do I. I still have yet to install a game on my Galaxy Nexus, doubt I ever will. Makes for some funny moments, though. People will mention popular mobile games and when I have no idea what they're talking about will assume I'm not into gaming! Couldn't be farther from the truth!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jezcentral
Because we can't take our PCs to the toilet?
Never understood this either. If you're in the restroom so long that you need your phone to entertain you I highly suggest seeing a doctor!
Bauul 19th September 2012, 16:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jezcentral
Because we can't take our PCs to the toilet?
Never understood this either. If you're in the restroom so long that you need your phone to entertain you I highly suggest seeing a doctor!

As a true gamer, you shouldn't miss ANY opportunity to play games! :)
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