Who are you?
Matt "The token American" Diener!
When did you work in the Pocket Gamer empire, and what did you do?
I worked for Steel Media from the beginning of January 2012 to the middle of 2014.
I wrote for Pocket Gamer as a news editor (officially, 'foreign correspondent'), game reviewer, and – finally – handheld evangelist and Japanese games expert.
For [sister site] PocketGamer.biz, I had the privilege of working under Jon Jordan and Keith Andrew – both exceptional and brilliant minds – who gave me the opportunity to write about some of the biggest stories in mobile's 'boom' years while doing a bit of interviews and investigative journalism on the side.
What are you up to nowadays?
I'm currently employed as an qualitative analyst for EEDAR (Electronic Entertainment Design and Research) and specialize in bespoke research for publishers and developers on mobile, PC / console, handheld, and VR games.
I typically work on game evaluations and business model analyses, but I've recently taken over our Focus Group line of research which has been a tremendous amount of fun (to say nothing of an excellent challenge and a great use of my ethnographic research background).
Do you have any fond/happy/mad/secret memories of your time on PG you'd like to share?
You mean other than the weekend [Steel Media MD] Chris James and I spent at a Korean love hotel?
I really don't know where to start. Working with great and patient editors like Will Wilson, Mark Brown, Peter Willington, and Rob Hearn was a treat – even if I only got around to meeting two of them.
Attending my first GSTAR was certainly an amazing experience as well.
PG really opened a lot of doors for me and allowed me to develop my talents along a number of lines. I'll always be thankful for the time I spent with the Steel Media crew and for all the lessons they taught me.
What key moments or developments stick out for you from the last 10 years of the mobile games industry?
The boring analyst in me will field this one. I think one of the best things to happen to mobile gaming in the past decade was when developers started creating games that really paid close attention to session length, when players were likely to engage, and – of course – the hardware.
There are some truly excellent, deep, and console-length games for mobile, but some of the absolute best games (like The Room, Angry Birds, Monument Valley, Clash of Clans, or Temple Run) realized that players were likely to check in for quick, bite-sized bits of gaming and they crafted their games perfectly around these shorter sessions while taking full advantage of the touch interface of smart devices.
Rather than compete against console (or even handheld) games, mobile developers and publishers realized that they could deliver a unique experience to fit into an avid gamer's lifestyle for those times that they found themselves with a few minutes to kill in line, while waiting for food, or – yes – while using the bathroom.
This was a great departure from the sort of 'forced fit' approach of trying to shoehorn traditional games onto mobile… although I will say I have nothing against the quality Final Fantasy ports that have been popping up over the past 10 years!
Which was your favourite mobile gaming platform(s) or hardware?
- New Nintendo 3DS (the improved 3D is exceptional, and its library of exclusives is one of the strongest available on the market today)
- PS Vita (Gravity Rush, Dragon's Crown, Tearaway, Danganronpa 1 & 2… even though these games are all popping up on other platforms, they all feel like they belong on the Vita's smaller screen)
- iPhone 6 (This generation really nails it with form factor, audio, and raw horsepower!)
I do play a lot of mobile games, yes! On my phone I've got Hearthstone, Lara Croft GO (still chipping away at it!), and Final Fantasy IX.
I will confess that the majority of my on-the-go gaming comes via my 3DS or Vita, however. Hatsune Miku Project Mirai DX is tiding me over until Fire Emblem: Fates, Bravely Second, and Hyrule Warriors Legends land. Once those arrive, I don't expect that I'll be playing much of anything else until well into the summer!
Where do you see mobile games and the industry going in the next 10 years?
A few years ago at almost any mobile conference you would find a handful of very assured executives crowing about how mobile was going to kill console and PC gaming and how it was 'the future' of gaming.
Pretty much everyone realizes that now – but what's really great here is that pretty much everyone also realizes that mobile is, more importantly, part of the future of gaming. It's never going to replace console gaming, PC gaming, handheld gaming (I'll defend #teamhandheld until my dying breath!), or VR gaming (although the Gear VR certainly blurs the lines!) – but it's going to continue to evolve and thrive alongside them.
I think the most successful mobile games over the next 10 years will focus on what mobile does best – delivering quick-hit bits of gaming that you can take with you on the go – while streamlining more traditional gaming experiences with these shorter, less focused gaming sessions in mind.
Anything you'd like to add?
This is a well-earned milestone and a testament to the enthusiasm, knowledge, skills, and insanity of everyone who's graced the pages of a Steel Media site (or magazine!) over the years!
I love the work I'm doing now and wouldn't trade it for anything, but a large part of me will always be sad that I'm no longer with the PG crew and helping chart the course of the good ship Pocket Gamer.
I wish PG another 10 years of success, and I eagerly await the launch of the PG 2.0 website sometime in the 10 years after that! :P
What's all this, then?
The Pocket Gamer 10th anniversary is a month-long celebration of the last decade of mobile games running March 10th - April 10th and featuring a stream of retrospective articles and fun stuff, supported by our friends at Gram Games, Gamevil, JoyCity, Rovio, and Nordeus. Head over to the PG 10th anniversary homepage for more information.