When I first heard that BioShock was being ported to iOS, I joined the gaming community in letting out a collective sigh and agreed that a mobile version of one of the most revered console games of all time was not something the world needed. However, since the announcement and after much thought, my outlook has changed. Maybe mobile ports of games with a level of BioShock status just might be what the gaming community needs to see more of.
Occasionally, I find myself hanging out with the 10-year-old son of my aunt’s boyfriend whenever he encounters a boss he can’t slay. When he asked me if I could show him how to access the Nether in Minecraft so he could beat the Ender Dragon, I immediately thought of the PC version. It is the definitive version of the game after all, but this kid never had the means to experience it. Instead, he played Minecraft: Pocket Edition on his iPod Touch. After explaining to him the differences between the PC and mobile versions (No Ender Dragon), I could tell that he felt like he was really missing out. He only owns a PlayStation One, Nintendo DSi, and iPod Touch – no PC. At the moment, all he can do is settle for the non-port version with completely different set of features than Minecraft proper.
The truth of the matter is, not everyone has the means to acquire the definitive version of every game, as that would require owning every home console, handheld, gaming PC, and mobile OS out there. In that regard, I’ve been blessed by never having to experience not being able to acquire the means to (legally) play any game I wanted to. But not everyone is as lucky as me, and I know plenty of people who can’t play certain exclusives because they are financially unable to. Today, an iOS device is the perfect starter gaming system in the eyes of most parents and gamers stuck on a strict budget. Not only does it have the basic functions of a computer, but the App Store is loaded with free games. Questionable quality notwithstanding, this provides the iOS gamer with a wealth of possible gaming options from the start. And once they are able to afford to purchase a game, why not offer them one of the last generation’s best at an affordable price that doesn’t involve buying a different console to play it on?
Simply put, BioShock’s iOS port is not meant for us, the self-defined “core” gamers who have already experienced the game back in its heyday, and that’s alright – we don’t have to buy it. In a world where cell phone gaming is just as popular (if not more so) than console gaming, I’m glad to see such an influential title get the mobile treatment. While I am still concerned about the use of touch controls, there’s one thing that’s for sure: our memories will not be tarnished by a new generation discovering BioShock for the first time.