Social Connection

I use my iPhone a lot. Like, probably an actually unhealthy amount of the time. I use it enough that this Saturday, I took a break from it because my wrists hurt and realized that constantly focusing so close was probably not doing wonders for my vision. No, I'm not proud of that - but as a parent of two kids, the iPhone's been a lifesaver in more ways that I can count. Not proud of that, either, but it is what it is.

Still - it was time for a break, so Saturday morning I just left the phone at home & took the kids out to go for a walk around Lake Temescal. It was great. We ran, we hid, we climbed - it was a great time on a beautiful day, and I have to admit that it was pleasurable to not even have the technological distraction as an option. It'll be something I do a lot more going forward. But that's neither here nor there - I'm not saying "iPhone bad!" I'm just saying for me, I enjoyed the change of pace. There are plenty of other times where in the midst of being a parent, having a connection to the outside world saved my sanity. :)

But while the kids were playing on the play structure, and I sat there (kind of wishing I had a camera!) thinking about things, I realized that at its heart, the social connectivity of the iPhone is what I value most out of it. Things like Twitter & Facebook, which have kept me in touch with friends I've had since childhood that might otherwise have fallen away. Things like having access to e-mail, being able to share photos - all those are things that I feel have changed my life for the better. As someone with kids, in my (very) late 30's, it's harder and harder to meet up with people in the real world. Kids consume so much of your time, and of your mental bandwidth that a lot of other things fall away.

I remember wondering why, when I was a kid, my parents had so few friends. Folks would come around once every few months, and they'd talk to a handful of people here and there, but I thought, "Geez, they must be really anti-social," even as a kid. Now, I sympathize. Time is extremely limited. So many things fall down the list of priorities - not even intentionally. I want to see my friends more often, but half the time I'm exhausted. I want to go on grand adventures, but we've still got a little guy who needs a nap in the middle of the day, and that makes things logistically challenging.

So a lot of these things fall away. And in my experience, one thing that's been critical in maintaining a lot of these connections, even in their reduced state, is the connectivity offered by the supercomputer in your pocket. That has real, life-altering value, and isn't just a distraction or a way to kill time.

And of course, that comes to games, as well. There are plenty of ways to kill five minutes on your phone - but I've found that more and more, that's not the experience I'm looking for. I have dozens of brilliant games on my phone. From Best Fiends to Alphabear to Xenowerk to Star Wars: Uprising to Legend of Grimrock. And while those games get some of my time, the games I really love are the ones I'm playing with other people. Capitals. Spellwood (though iOS9 appears to finally be the nail in its coffin). Hearthstone. 

The thing I want out of these games is the ability to play with friends. This is why I keep playing Destiny (PS4), because it's the game that's most likely to evolve at any point into an actual social experience with people I enjoy playing with.

And the key isn't just that I want to play a game where I'm "socially adjacent" to someone, like the map in Candy Crush (or any of its countless imitators) - I want to be playing with someone, or against them. I want a game that enables me to compete against another person's ability to strategize, or react, or something that captures the infinite variability of playing against another person. More, I want a game that will let me create new memories with that person.

One of my favorite things about playing games in college was that my housemates and I would spend an hour playing something like Warcraft, and then we'd spend the next three talking about it. All the close calls, the weird mistakes, the brilliant strategic moves - they all became fodder for our real world experience with each other. The best parts of those games were the memories we formed together.

So when I look at the phone, for all the things it does, the thing I value about it the most - and by far - is the ability to keep in touch with other people. Through things like Twitter and Facebook, I can hear about their day, and we can chat. I can see pictures of their kids, or their travels, or whatever their life has to offer. That's great. But with games, we can do something even better. We can do things together. Even if we're a thousand miles apart. Even if one of us is trapped under a sleeping toddler. That's something that has made my life hugely better.

And it's something we hope to do with our game, for you.