DEVELOPING A MOBILE GAMES DATABASE: TRACING INTERDEPENDENCIES AMONG EARLY MOBILE GAMES
Keywords:mobile games, archives, research, history
Mobile games have been around since at least the 1970s, serving as an important foundation to today’s ludic and digital cultures. Understanding the history of mobile games is relevant because mobile games link digital culture and urban mobility, and they promote sociability. However, reclaiming the history of mobile games poses a challenge to researchers. Many early mobile games are no longer on the market or are expensive to acquire. Others were ephemeral in nature, leaving behind few traces of their existence. To respond to these challenges, we have developed an online, publicly searchable database of mobile games, developed between 1975 and 2008. This database offers a centralized repository where researchers can search for games by using a wide range of criteria, such as title, time frame, genre, type of connectivity, number of players, place of development, authors, and hardware. This paper discusses the process for developing this database, emphasizing the interdependent relationship between theory and practice. It also discusses interdependence as a value for research, more broadly. The database was developed in collaboration with scholars/practitioners across disciplines, and its future robustness depends on the ability to crowd-source information that is scattered across the web and in archives. We argue that the pursuit of interdependence, rather than independence, helps to fuel research, widen perspectives, and disrupt normative frameworks guiding research. It is our hope that the database will improve the process of researching mobile games and serve as a historical record for an increasingly meaningful aspect of culture and social life.