The Game at the End of the Bar
"At first, Brian said he 'never' played those games, then he admitted he sometimes played 'when I'm waiting for someone.' After about five minutes, he finally owned up to a minor addiction to Conquest, a surprisingly complex contest of board control involving jumping and cloning adjacent octopuses on a hex-field. A challenge was quickly issued and accepted, and while the match itself wasn't very interesting, the camaraderie we built over the game reminded me of similarly quick friendships forged over Street Fighter or DDR in old-school arcades."
Kyle Orland touches on the appeal of touch screen bar games.
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You don't have to tell me twice. A relative of mine picked up a Megatouch unit at a yard sale and set it up in his house (with the cost set to $0, of course) and any time there's company, somebody (not even always me!) is sitting at it, just tapping away.
Can't there be something as the crossing of a simpler Nintendo DS, a slightly richer Megatouch unit and a intuitive mobile phone?
There's rumors that Apple might market the iPhone as something like that. But it would be filling a substantially different niche from a DS or a Megatouch.
I think the main reason that these units are so popular is because they are there. You don't have to own it, you don't have to make the decision to buy it or stock it with what kind of software. You sit down at a place you'd be anyway, then you notice the games there and pay to play them. The absence of the game, however, does not make anyone think "Man, I wish I had some games to play." And if you do think that way, then either you'll bug the owner about it, or you're already hooked and a DS may be more up your alley.
More to the point, there's a social aspect that can really only be provided by a big screen that everyone can see, so so much for portability.
Higbie says Merit's success has come from their simple game design mantra. "We ... love games that we can play with one hand, while drinking a beer with the other." On that score, Merit's games succeed with flying colors. Not one of the dozens of games available on a single Megatouch unit requires more than one finger to play masterfully
That reminds me of the theory that StarCraft was so successful in South Korea as it allowed people to play games in PC Bangs (cybercafes) with one hand free, to hold a drink/cigarette. FPSs weren't so popular as they required both hands! :D