Japan’s Electronic Explorers
Beyond simply witnessing more and more advertising for mobile games, we may start to notice a much larger trend. The fact that the developers of viral game titles, with expensive launches and run-up marketing campaigns, are starting to resemble blockbuster film studios (and also can earn comparably massive profits) belies the larger trend. It could be that the destiny of digital games is to become a dominant medium — like a new kind of book, reinvented by postmodernity.
Japan, in its love for digital arts like anime and its reputation as a hotbed of mobile gaming, certainly deserves the credit of leading in the exploration of the gaming mindspace — not to mention the mobile devices themselves — and facing their social ramifications boldly. The interest of the public there is so strong that mobile games deserve energetic and costly marketing strategies, some of them innovative, which can crowd out ads for console games or films.
Worldwide, game studios are emerging to serve both global and regional (or game specific) markets. For example, the hot studio out of Sweden, Internet Entertainment has cuts its own mold by producing online slots and realistic card games that have the same quality and polish as major animated movies (sucking the same talent, too). Mobile casinos, like Japan’s pop app culture, have been pushing the limits of game-oriented mass entertainment.
Betting on Gaming
Billboards and TV ad campaigns in Japan that drive early audiences to play the newest mobile (smartphone) games aim to do two things: promote early downloads, and, drive the game’s brand into common knowledge — potentially into the ranks of the historically viral mobile games namesakes.
Japan has been home to cutting edge gamer communities and unique popular excitement — maybe since the country became synonomous with ‘video games’ and Gameboy-like devices. That atmosphere of massive enthusiasm for gaming and its high rank as an important cultural medium is the ideal setting for major innovation. Quality in mobile games found in the Japanese marketplace has approached, if not absorbed, the standards for graphics, complexity and performance expected from console games or dedicated portable gaming machines.
The nice thing about the global gaming phenomenon, let alone the craze inside Japan (with influences everywhere), is the diversity in games that it produces. The fact that all ages are attracted to playing a mobile game on one’s smartphone — aside from the free status of enough downloads — is proof that game studios are concentrating upon that many tastes and audiences.
The mega popular bingo apps found at www.tablet-bingo.com demonstrate the trend of gaming as a historic cultural medium aside from any particular content, as well as the accessibility of this medium to so many types of people, from bingo games played by parents to cutting edge action games played by their kids.
The point to make here is that despite the fits and starts of software development, or indeed the trial and error strategies used for marketing mobile game apps on a large scale, gaming itself is emerging as a self-evident communication medium. It is in step with our overall experience of living in today’s technology-saturated urban spaces, in always-connected states of mind.