Cell Phones Gaining as Gaming Devices

by Jordan Richardson on November 1, 2010

While computers and consoles still account for the majority of gaming, cell phones are quickly gaining as the devices of choice for gamers young and old.

According to a study (PDF) by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the proportion of games being played on handheld devices like cell phones is increasing at a very rapid pace. What’s more, teenage girls are the largest group of mobile gamers.

The report reveals that 7% of gamers report cell phones to be their platforms of choice. That’s almost double the 4% of 2009’s study. 12% of teenage girls preferred cell phones compared to just 5% of teenage boys.

There’s no question that cell phones have a long way to go when it comes to accumulating gamers. Around half of the gamers surveyed said that they turn to computers most often, while about a third play on a console like the Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii.

It’s hardly a surprising survey, at least in my opinion.

For one thing, gaming on cell phones is rather limited when compared to the types of experiences one can have on a television or computer screen. If one has the choice between playing games primarily on an Xbox 360 on a decent television set or a tiny cell phone screen, I’m pretty sure that the Xbox would rate as the preferred system of choice over nine times out of ten – even if the heavily rumoured PSP smart phone turns out to be, you know, a real thing.

Cell phone gaming is making some advances, sure, but nothing compares to kicking the ball around on FIFA Soccer 11 on a big screen TV.

The selection of games on cell phones is also, for the most part, quite limited. While there are some advances being made and a lot of the apps are quite revolutionary, there’s simply no graphics comparison when paired up against the bigger systems like the Playstation 3.

The survey from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada did produce some other interesting results. For starters, the average age of the typical gamer in Canada is 33. 47% of Canadian households have at least one gaming console, while a surprising 45% of Canadians over the age of 55 play video games a few days a week. 62% of gamers are male and 38% are female. 96% of Canadians own a computer, which sticks my parents in the vast minority.

So while cell phones are catching on in terms of gaming among Canadians, it’s clear that they have a long way to go before becoming the “console” of choice for serious gamers.

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