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May 7, 2008

Exploring community gaming horizons beyond N-Gage

SAN FRANCISCO, USA – It’s all to easy to get swept up in technical details of upcoming devices and services, and forget the important stuff, like why it matters or how it’s really going to truly add an extra sprinkling of spice to our mobile lives. With that in mind, we don’t normally get excited about software development kits (we just want the end products), but a recent announcement at the JavaOne fest in San Francisco caught our eye.

Community-based gaming, local or global, remains an relatively untapped avenue of mobile entertainment. Granted, N-Gage is breaking the mould with higher-end handsets capable of delivering such environments, but Java gaming remains the largest and most accessible platform for most people. Keen to explore this path SNAP Mobile, a free tool used by masses of developers to enable them to create and test top-class Java games for Nokia and non-Nokia devices, has just been updated with much greater emphasis on enabling developers to create massively multi-player action, matchmaking and instant messaging within games:

“The latest SNAP Mobile SDK is a significant step forward for Nokia with a new object-oriented API and improved UI framework that makes it more accessible for Java game developers to build games with online community functionality, such as in-game user registration and log-in, unique user identification, multiplayer and massively multiplayer gaming with opponent matchmaking and player rankings, Instant Messaging and contact list building.”

So with this upgraded breed of development tool promising to open the floodgates to connected community-focussed entertainment and interaction, is the real challenge getting us to actually engage and interact? Do we need incentives, or if the experience simply works and works well is that enough?

Whatever happens it’s exciting to know that the mobile entertainment landscape is growing and is set to become more tangible for less hardcore mobile users.

We also ran a piece recently on WidSets-based multiplayer gaming over a mobile network without the need for a fast 3G connection, which is yet another example of how mobile gaming can reach further afield and even into emerging markets.

Where do you think the future of mobile gaming lies? Is there one solution for all, or is this segmented approach the most sensible way forward?