The ubiquity of smart phones has done more than merely deliver us the sum total of human knowledge to our fingertips, coming in quite handy for defining the word, "ubiquity" as we stand in line at Starbucks waiting for our latte. Beyond ordering pizza, serving as a flashlight, documenting our daily routines in pseudo-artistic imagery, and, I almost forgot: communicating with others, our phones are also becoming a popular gaming platform.
We typically expect that when someone is staring down at their phone these days, they are talking to their good friend "about last night," but more and more, it's possible that the person whose eyes are bolted to their iPhone are instead slaying monsters, answering trivia, or embroiled in a puzzle. Are you one of those people? Here are a sample of some of the games that are both fun and addictive.
Words With Friends
The only game in which your girlfriend, mom or grandma can repeatedly kick your ass - and drop their facade of humility once they do, continues to be one of the most popular games in the phone-tainment field. A clone of the board game Scrabble, "Words" has a ruleset that almost everybody is familiar with, and like most popular games, incessantly exploits your Facebook friends list to engage in the ultimate battle of the English language with your friends, hairdresser and "that one guy you met that one time." (Who knew your hairdresser could score 72 points using the word "XI?")
Clash Of Clans
If board games and puzzles are too mundane, this real-time combat game allows you to build your own village and battle against others doing the same, both individually as well as in teams called "clans." Like most of these popular games, it's free to play, but there's a way you can speed up your ascension in the ranks if you're willing to spend real money. Clash of Clans is beautifully-animated and runs on all major platforms. The early game is pretty well balanced but the longer you play, the more time-consuming it becomes to hold your own without shelling out some gold pieces to buy better offensive and defensive units.
Candy Crush Saga
This incredibly addictive game is the gold standard by which phone-tainment-addiction is measured. It has spawned a family of similar games from "Soda Crush" to "Pet Saga," all based around what appears to be a linear, puzzle-based playfield where you take turns sliding things around pretending that there's some kind of strategy when it's ultimately random luck. This digital crack rewards you with "level ups," cute graphics and intoxicating sound effects, and also will make you frustrated and stuck, but alas with a taste of the sweet flavor of your major credit card, you can always get un-stuck. Your friend has made it to level 377, don't you feel inferior? Better catch up!
Speaking of digital dependencies, this game dispenses with the formalities of being a form of entertainment more than it ultimately is an addiction. Trivia Crack is one of the latest rages, sporting the important-yet-irrelevant level-based reward system, with the ability to buy your way into MENSA territory by paying to cheat while battling it out with friends and random people by answering trivia questions, most of which were thought of either by 11-year-olds or PhD chemists, and not much in between. This game can, in the span of 30 seconds, make you feel like both a genius and a moron. And the constant dribbling from one to the other is a primary component of its appeal. Just one more game. This time I swear I'll get that question about the Great Lakes right!
These are just a few of the game I hate, but can't stop playing. I have to go now. If you see me at Starbucks, send me a free spin.