From the museum-preserved backgammon boards that date back thousands of years, all the way to the latest announcement of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it seems obvious that human beings have always loved games. As our technology becomes increasingly interconnected and versatile, consumers gain the ability to experience a wide variety of games on a single platform, and nowhere is this more apparent than the modern smartphone.
Whether you’re looking to kill a few minutes in the backseat of a cab, or curate a list of games that spans hundreds of years, here are 5 gaming milestones available on your smartphone:
The Game Of Life
Originally conceived in 1860 by Milton Bradley (in an age where most board games had moral messages for the current generation’s youth), The Game of Life takes a player through the major events of work, money, family, and potential happiness. It’s amazing to realize that your smartphone can play a game that actually materialized a year before the American Civil War, and predates the germ cell theory of disease by several decades. Not only would the original players of The Game Of Life not recognize your smartphone, they wouldn’t be able to understand why you insisted on hitting your screen with a wet wipe each time someone new touched it.
Sonic The Hedgehog
One of the most popular media franchises of the early to mid 90’s, Sonic the Hedgehog helped sell millions of Sega Genesis consoles, ushering in a new era of competition with Nintendo after they had all but won the videogame market after the rebirth of games in the mid 80’s. Sonic showed up for a series of games, comic books, cartoons, and other merchandising that was rivaled only by Nintendo’s Mario incarnations, and the first side-scrolling platformer game is available on your phone for the low cost of 99 cents.
Sixaxis Controller App
Ever since the dawn of the smartphone and tablet, consumer market and tech commentators have pondered about the end of the videogame console, with all its formerly unique content becoming available on the tiny but powerful gadgets that an increasingly large percentage of us carry around in our pockets. While the jury is still out on that particular scenario, one significant milestone came when console controllers became compatible with smartphones, giving you access to games that required more complicated manipulation than a few finger swipes.
The Sixaxis controller app lets you connect your PlayStation 3 Sixaxis or Dualshock 3 controller to your phone via Bluetooth, letting you set up an impromptu gaming session on a 5-inch screen whenever you have a few spare moments. The relatively recent addition of this feature to smartphones has opened the floodgates for a variety of more interesting, powerful games, including a bevy of console remakes, such as:
Grand Theft Auto III
One of the most popular, controversial, and influential games of all time, GTA III originated on Sony’s PlayStation 2, and is seen by many as one of the first open world games, where a completely virtual world exists for the player to wonder through at will. This particular world happened to be populated by stealable cars, hyper violent mob bosses, and pedestrians with the severely unfortunate trait of leaping in front of a speeding car instead of to the side, but few can deny its monumental impact on game design. Considered to be a powerhouse game on a console that cost $299 a mere 13 years ago, GTA III can now be experienced on your smartphone for a mere $4.99—barely more than your favorite beverage from a coffee shop.
One of the most recent icons of the new era of gaming, Minecraft exploded onto the scene in 2011, selling millions of copies across a variety of platforms, including conventional PC, smartphone, tablet, and gaming console. A simple but ingenious premise has players in a cube-based, open world, with the tasks of gathering resources, building completely customizable structures and dwellings, protecting themselves from predatory beasts, and more. One of the first games to achieve mainstream success across a variety of formats, Minecraft is commonly named in articles that discuss the future of gadgets and digital media, and you can experience the phenomenon on your phone whenever you have a minute to spare.
John is a blogger who still remembers his 6-year-old self picking up a Nintendo controller for the first time. He writes for Protect Your Bubble, an Internet insurer that can help protect your smartphone—including Samsung’s new Galaxy S4—from drops, damages, theft, and more.