Playing Mobile Games With Hackers
By Mike Masnick, Sat Dec 11 01:00:00 GMT 2004

It's been "yet another next big thing" for a while, but some interesting things are finally happening in mobile gaming. The excitement isn't coming from big developers or the operators themselves, but hackers who are messing around and coming up with something useful.

It never seems to fail in the mobile industry. Everyone gets excited about some new technology, and the operators stop thinking about ways to make it really useful, but start with the premise of "how can we make money off of this." That, of course, is the backwards way of looking at things. No one makes any money if there's nothing useful, and if you start from the position of how to make money, then the good ideas usually go out the door. It's much better to come up with something good, fun and/or useful, and figure out the money making part later.

In two different stories today, it's possible to see that this appears to be happening in the mobile gaming arena. While initial efforts from big companies haven't gone very far, the hackers are taking over, working on ways to make mobile games fun and useful -- and the big companies will catch on eventually.

Wired News is looking at the early success of the new Nintendo DS, noting that very few of the games make use of the wireless connections. However, a group of hackers have been messing around to figure out ways to make the DS work over the Internet, rather than just over a local Wi-Fi network. While it's still in the early stages, there seems to be a lot more potential to offer collaborative or competitive games with people across the Internet, than just in the same room with each other. Meanwhile, Russell Buckley is pointing to an intriguing effort by a small group of developers to create a location based game involving the GPS system on mobile phones.

Both of these cases show smaller development groups coming up with something fun or useful -- without having to work through the bureaucratic process of dealing with whatever company makes the device or provides service to it. That is, the focus is simply on the application, not on who controls what and where the money is made. If something is very useful and fun, eventually there will be ways to make money -- but opening up and letting the developers figure out what makes sense is the only way these types of applications are going to bubble to the top.