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From Snake to TikTok: Evolution of Mobile Entertainment

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Mobile phones were cool enough on their own back in the day. You could be anywhere, and anyone could reach you, and you could reach all your friends and family, too. However, over time as technology improved, people wanted more from their phones. In 1996, the Hagenuk MT-2000 came with Tetris. The following year, mobile gaming kicked it up a notch with Snake on the Nokia 6610. And thus began the transition of mobile phones to mobile entertainment centers.

The Early Days

In the 90s and early 2000s, phones started incorporating entertainment, but it was slow going. Phones were expensive enough as it was, and the technology wasn’t there to connect to the internet or keep the phones small enough to be practical. Since there was no way to download a game, they were preloaded on phones and had simple interfaces. Snake was nothing more than a line that moved around your screen, for example. There were other simple games, like Connect 4, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that Space Invaders became available.

While not a complex game by current standards, it was quite exciting to have a “real” video game available on mobile phones. There were text-based RPGs that involved making choices and beating puzzles, and some racing games. Some phones started coming equipped with an infrared port so that you could play against another person with the same type of phone. The technology was similar to the earliest days of Gameboy a decade and a half before.

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The iPod

In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod. This was a portable storage device that could hold hundreds of songs while also remaining very small and portable. You could download songs from their iTunes interface, and go on your way. It was a portable music player, but it evolved into so much more. By 2006, it introduced a version that could play videos and had rudimentary games. This was the precursor for what was to come.

Smartphones

In the mid 2000s, finally tech companies had the technology to combine everything into one device. Smartphones didn’t just have music and videos, but they could be downloaded from the internet. Along with that, phones could download apps, which could be used for a variety of functions. One of the most popular was gaming.

Mobile Games

This was an evolutionary step that brought us to where we are today. The games in the aughts were still simple, but they were in color, and the touchscreen functionality added another level of excitement to the gaming experience. The games were more sophisticated, from RPGs to action, to online casual games, such as Plants vs Zombies. Perhaps the biggest, however, was Angry Birds. Seemingly overnight, it had millions of downloads and just as many copycats. It branched into comic books, TV shows, a movie, and several sequels. Mobile gaming has become a big business. Over time, the games got more complex, and they even released mobile versions of console games.

The Next Steps

The technology and innovations continued to improve the gaming experience. Not only that, but social media was coming into the mainstream, with Facebook being the dominant player. Connecting with friends and sharing images was entertaining enough, but you could also play games, like Farmville. This was unique, because it was mobile gaming within the app. You could play with your friends or challenge complete strangers.

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Pokemon Go

The next step in the evolution of mobile entertainment was augmented reality (AR), and Pokemon Go was the prime example. It used the GPS on smartphones to track and locate Pokemon in the “real world.” Soon, players were watching their phones while walking through parks, down streets, in forests, and pretty much everything there could be a Pokemon hiding. It was a game that not only had a high-tech concept, but also promoted active living, which made it unique from other mobile games.

Today

Mobile entertainment today is dominated by TikTok. Anyone in the world can upload a short video and share it with their friends. With the “For You” feed your videos can reach an even wider audience. There is a shared community, with memes and trends evolving on an almost daily basis.

Mobile entertaining is a massive industry, and it’s only expected to grow in the coming years. There’s no telling how technology will improve and evolve, but it’s exciting to think about what the future holds.

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