Mobile games are thriving as players turn to them for fun and friendship during the pandemic, with increasing numbers of women joining the trend.
“Being stuck at home has not stopped people from playing games on their phones,” said SensorTower mobile insights strategist Craig Chapple. “To the contrary, mobile gaming is more popular than ever.”
Smartphone game play involves taps on touchscreens with just a few moments of play at a time, often while sipping coffee or waiting for transit, in contrast to the console games with immersive worlds that can span hours.
Mobile games appeal to a broader demographic than do shooters and other genres popular on console or PC gamers.
More than 40 percent of mobile gamers are women, according to research firms Newzoo and Statista. That differs from gamers using consoles or personal computers, who are more likely to be males age 12 to 35 years old, according to analysts.
“We’ve had loads of people forced inside during lock-downs in need of entertainment,” said Futuresource mobile tech and gaming research analyst Morris Garrard.
“Gaming being one of the most interactive and engaging forms of entertainment has seen a significant boost.”
According to the mobile consultancy App Annie, spending on mobile gaming is expected to see strong growth this year and top $100 billion. Popular titles include Candy Crush Saga, Honor of Kings, Pokemon Go and Gardenscapes.
Many mobile games are free to download and rely on massive numbers of people spending a little on things like extra lives, virtual outfits, or items that boost in-game abilities.
And, paying a dollar or so to upgrade to an ad-free version of a mobile game
A free game launched today allows players to role-play the deployment of a virtual vaccine to help to halt the global spread of a viral pandemic. The Vaccination Game, created by researchers at the University of Oxford’s MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, in collaboration with Goldsmiths, University of London, challenges players to figure out how they can deploy limited doses of the vaccine to best control a disease modelled on influenza.
The idea of developing a game was conceived by Professor Hal Drakesmith and colleagues who are part of a research network focussing on immunising babies and mothers to fight infections in low and middle-income countries. Following funding from, and in collaboration with the IMPRINT research network, they were able to begin development of the game.
“We originally had the idea of the game and began developing it back in 2019, with influenza as our example disease,” said Professor Drakesmith, who is based at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. “Then COVID-19 struck, and the ideas behind the game are obviously much more relevant.”
“Our game isn’t intended as a modelling or simulation tool, or meant to predict real-world scenarios”, Professor Drakesmith said. “Instead, we hope it’s educational, as it illustrates how vaccines can work on a global scale, and shows that precisely how a vaccine is deployed across populations can be crucial to its effectiveness”
Professor Drakesmith and his group collaborated with the Analysis, Visualisation and Informatics group, also based in the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, to develop the game. They also worked with Goldsmiths, University of London, to produce the final version based on mathematical models of how a virus spreads, and what effect a vaccine might have.
The virtual vaccine in the game is available in limited doses per