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Untapped Potential of BlackBerry 10 Gaming

By August 31, 2013BlackBerry 10, Editorial
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Mobile gaming has always been an avid activity, most people who do not like the idea of sitting down to play a video game most likely would never understand why a fan would. It has always pushed the prospect of fun into the forefront, no matter what the technological expectations and eventual executions were, but it is still an amazingly young activity, given its short lifespan of only about four decades.

However, it has come a long way from the point of emergence to our present day. Arcades were birthed from the idea that early computers were largely big consoles. Most of these chassis and its systems were considered on par with the expectations of those years. Size and the lack of binary abundance (system and software-wise,) were indeed true determinants of why the arcade cabinets of Pong took so much space real-estate, among others.

But the reason why these cabinets were larger than life at the time runs on more ways than one. They also operated on a subconscious and, later on as arcades became more widespread, conscious ideas that aesthetics of a single gaming machine could be used to one’s advantage. The idea of painting the cabinets were very much the aesthetic equivalents of exploiting skeuomorphic elements on a graphical user interface. They run along the same vein of looks and aesthetics. Even grainy wood on a true wooden game cabinet is done with over-stickers sometimes, an intriguing idea that people do go the extra mile for a little visual pizazz.

As much as the looks did matter, it became apparent people cared about the insides more as the years went by, and they begun to pay more attention to the controls and subsequently how they could push gameplay to new heights of fun and excitement. There was an evolution of paradigms, as people played these games, they wondered if the controls, the faster computers, the hardware, could all add up to improve the overall gaming experience and the fun.

It seemed that was true, even with the advances of present-day mobile technology. The devices we often see used on the road, by the layman, almost always utilized a touch screen of some sort. The physical keyboard phone quickly fell to the wayside. The corporate world, in which Blackberry has been the dominant manufacturer for a better part of a decade, were needing no games at all, and therefore OEMs never saw the need to innovate on that front. Truth is those physical keys often had a hidden potential for games that Blackberry has never even laid eyes on. Keeping the business world moving always seemed more important to the greatest corporate hand set maker of recent times, unfortunately.

With the introduction of the new platform, Blackberry 10, however, we saw a shift towards a more app-centric, modern perspective on mobile computing. Blackberry Live 2013 was the perfect example of where their paradigms have shifted. Apps of the broader canvas, instead of just business and corporate related apps, were pushed as an underlying effort to make Blackberry an equivalent to the competition.

Gaming had to be elevated to a status quo. First of all, since video games the likes of Angry Birds were stated as marquee apps in Blackberry World, it makes good business sense to expand upon the already opened opportunities. Blackberry needs to take advantage of all the potential to get BB10 devices into more hands. Game development has no choice but to tailor gaming to suit the platform.

Secondly, the industry has evolved and devices nowadays no longer are designed with just one paradigm in mind. Smartphones are not created or even expected to be created for just one demographic. Increasingly more children and certainly teenagers are holding smartphones these days, and it is now an imperative to broaden the canvas on which Blackberry phones operate on. Games on the BB10 platform are great ways to capitalize.

Developers are getting on board and are working on really great indie games for the platform to add to the bigger properties. Key titles like Super Hexagon, Robotek, Super Hold’em King and Jetpack Joyride add to the smorgasboard alongside Angry Birds Star Wars, Need for Speed: Undercover, Battleship, UNO and even Real Racing 3. Although there is still considerable ground to make up for in terms of selection, compared to long-running guns iOS and Android, one could see the potential found in these little gems of fun. The arcade days of our childhoods can be reminisced on a BlackBerry phone more than ever now.

For an undeniably business-like phone, the Z10 has gaming written all over it. A 4.2 720p Resolution LCD screen with a landscape viewing ratio has a modern archetypal quality to it. Much mobile phone gaming exists on iPhone and Android nowadays, and that landscape perspective is now the reality on that screen and with the hardware, a 1.5 ghz dual core Krait processor with Adreno 225 graphics. With a HDMI capabilities that it has, that allows already impressive 720p resolution visuals to be displayed on High definition televisions, it has essentially made itself a mini console. A powerful, real time, true multitasking one at that.

Powerful parallels to console gaming now serves to illustrate an important point, and if anyone noticed the huge influx of games being released on Blackberry World daily (and subsequently went to download them after watching Crackberry’s delightful game review videos), they probably know too that these games are looking increasingly tailored for large screen gaming. Although still a big number of games are of the puzzle variety, the native resolution of the Z10 still remains very high and desirable as it gets pushed down wholesale to the your HDMI enabled television. The enjoyment potential is palpable to say the least.

But, wait, the Q10 is where the real magic lies, if one takes a closer look at how the idea of controls, as mentioned earlier, can fuel the real innovation and revolution in gaming…

For a long time, gamers have been lamenting about the lack of tactile feedback in mobile touchscreen gaming. Multi-touch and other advances have not quite satisfied the hardcore gamers, which is why they still prefer their pizza sauce-encrusted game controllers. In the broader sense, it seems the more popular, successful games in even an arcade setting have ubiquitous physical controls, even if those controls are in different forms, joysticks and light guns to name a few. Looking back at mobile, we have not yet even nailed the perfect mobile gaming experience on a touchscreen device to rival that of traditional console handhelds.

Which brings me to consider, doesn’t anyone have the feeling the Qwerty keyboard sized BlackBerry (most notably the Q10, due to its sufficient graphics) is just the perfect device for Nintendo Gameboy-styled gaming? Look at how similar the form factor of the original Gameboy is to the Q10, if you just ignore the presence of the very many keys and the far less bulkier size, you will find that lots of good games, filled with fun immersion and production values, can be made for the de-facto Qwerty keyboard device.

Furthermore, if you factor in the far-superior multitasking capabilities of the BB10 platform, neutrino-fueled goodness will enable an experience that is hard to replicate with any of the other gaming handhelds of today. You want to play another game, while still maintaining the state in your present game? Load the other game up. In fact, load up to eight games and play to your heart’s content. That is something even the Playstation Vita, one of the first devices to parallel the app paradigm of mobile gaming, has not come close. Providing a full multitasking experience on a mobile gaming system is a feature the handhelds of today do not have, and that has been done on touchscreen phones for years.

Many possibilities open up in bold and interesting ways, hotkeys similar to those in traditional PC massively multiplayer role playing games can be achieved on a Qwerty. Once-impossible intricate settings can now be implemented. Weapons can be wielded with a single button press. These gamers would not need to learn them anew if theoretically they have seen it on their PC counterparts, given the fact that game ports on mobile are possible with increasingly advanced SOCs (systems on a chip). What more could BlackBerry want in an alternative marketing point to push Qwerty devices forward into an already touchscreen dominated global market?

Low-hanging fruit abound, and if the usual small-screen argument comes up to take down the viability of mobile gaming, that’s where HDMI output comes in. The presence of HDMI output on the Q10 essentially makes it the first pseudo-controller for television-sized gaming. Enjoying Bard’s tale in the living room, whipping out your phone and plugging it in, is now a convenient console gaming-esque affair that could work well in every economic sense. It could destroy consoles if they aren’t careful, no troublesome peripherals or add-ons needed.

Problem is why aren’t more developers, and further up the line, Blackberry realizing this enormous opportunity?

The wonderful thing is that it can all be taken in stride for BlackBerry. The attempts to create the ultimate handheld gaming system in a phone have been lackluster, but perhaps they have been going about it all wrong. If a smartphone succeeds on its own merits and then goes on to be a coincidental and successful gaming device, it would prove to be less imposing and pretentious to the public. No one wants to see any manufacturer hearken back to the Nokia N-Gage days, and now all BlackBerry has to do is get BlackBerry 10 up to par and get developers to make use of those tools to create the best gaming experiences moving forward. On a BlackBerry phone. Perhaps we can actually be the driving force in gaming and everything else that Blackberry had been core-proficient in and, while they are at it, sell more devices to bring Blackberry up to its former glory.

Who says Blackberry must be all work and no play?

Article contributed by

Jeremy Cai Yixin @Speedygi81

BerryFlow

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