Although they were originally invented back in 1973, it is during the last twenty years that mobile phones have really undergone a rapid evolution and become the indispensable gadgets that they are today.

Nowadays phones are smaller than ever and possess more capabilities as each new release pushes the tech further forward. Many of the newer features have made them popular devices to play games on and it is this aspect of their evolution that we will look at in more depth within this article.

The birth of mobile gaming really came in 1997, when the mobiles produced by the manufacturer Nokia came with the mobile game called Snake built into them. This was the game where a line representing a snake got longer and longer and you had to keep manoeuvring it within the tight confined space of the tiny screen without it either touching the sides or itself. Although distinctly primitive compared with the mobile games on offer today – much as the phones themselves were – Snake was a huge hit and helped Nokia cement its position at the front of the mobile market.

The company went on to add other simple games like Pong, Bounce and Space Impact to its mobiles to capitalise on this. Nokia phones were powered by the company’s own Symbian operating system, which was the cutting edge at this stage in the evolution of mobile phones. The company sought to further press ahead in terms of mobile gaming by launching the Nokia N-Gage in 2003.

This rather odd device represented a bid to merge the mobile phone with the games console, containing all of the communication features you would expect to find with a phone but being shaped – and sized – more like a console, including a bigger screen. At the time, it was Nokia’s first real setback, as it failed to compete with real games consoles, but arguably it was an innovative forerunner of the tablet.

Mobile gaming really moved into the modern era with the arrival of the smartphone however, and the emergence of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 – closely followed by the first Android smartphones – meant the end for Nokia. The rapid improvement in the technical specs of these devices has led to games featuring detailed, high quality graphics and sophisticated gameplay – including long games like RPGs. Another big development has been the increasing use of internet connectivity for mobile gaming, thanks to the huge overlap between smartphone and internet usage in general.

Mobile casino sites accessed via the internet on a smartphone, and specifically designed to work on mobile browsers such as, are one good example of this – as the numbers playing the casino games at these sites have soared. It could be argued that the need for Wi-Fi reduces the mobility, but recent developments such as the emergence of wireless controllers are addressing this and further improving the actual game-play at the same time.

Given how fast the evolution of mobile gaming has been in the last two decades, it is really exciting to imagine what could be around the corner.