The future of mobile | Playable Futures Podcast

The future of mobile | Playable Futures Podcast

Will Freeman speaks to Deborah Mensah-Bonsu about the power of mobile games to change the world

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The latest episode of Playable Futures features a conversation with Deborah Mensah-Bonsu, who is the founder of dmb crew. Her flagship initiative is Games for Good, which focuses on helping studios and the wider industry harness games for social impact. Will and Deborah discuss the opportunity presented by the proliferation of games on mobile to unlock societal and behavioural change for good.

« People are starting to understand that what it means to be a gamer is not what it was ten years ago, » Deborah says, adding later – « There is a potential for mobile to engage with people who didn’t consider themselves gamers. Mobile is leading on that. »

Whilst the discussion touches the familiar themes of mobile gaming such as monetisation – with Deborah saying that « it’s not wrong to spend money on something that you think is bringing you value, » – and discoverability, the podcast equally focuses on the potential of the medium to effect change, with Deborah being optimistic about mobile as a platform for innovation and connection, with games offering tremendous potential to take us beyond the horizon of our ambition.

You can read highlights from the episode below the podcast player.

The Playable Futures Podcast accompanies Playable Futures, a collection of insights, interviews and articles from global games leaders sharing their visions of where the industry and medium will go next. A series of ten articles so far have been published on GamesIndustry.biz, with more planned. Playable Futures is a collaborative project brought to you in partnership with GI.biz, UKIE and Diva.

The GamesIndustry.biz Podcast is available via Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, Player FM, TuneIn and other widely-used podcast platforms. You can also download this episode directly.

Title music by Thomas Marchant. Episode produced by Keira Freeman.

Deborah was the driving force behind the Green Game Jam – part of the UN’s Playing for the Planet initiative, which Playable Futures covered in episode one. Born out of the gaming industry’s commitments at the 2019 Climate Action Summit the GGJ reaches more than 100 Million gamers. Participants can now develop games on the platform of their choice, but mobile is still the preferred option for most participants.

The episode’s conversation explores some fascinating themes. How can future research be deployed to assess the impact mobile games can have on player behaviour, better enabling the sector to understand what objectives are possible? And what about fundraising, design mindset,the meaning of cultural change, and the value of fun in delivering impactful mobile titles? Mobile games present a massive opportunity as a delivery vehicle for social impact globally, but how can we ensure that impact? One thing is certain; developers and creators can pull various levers – whether at studio level or through game design – to use mobile games as a means of bringing communities together.

It is this sense of connection that drives Deborah’s vision, and is a key theme that the Playable Futures podcasts’ contributors have all come back to:

« All of us, all the time we have so many walls and masks up – everyone is just afraid, and making a tonne of fear-based decisions and if we could make more spaces where it’s okay to be vulnerable perhaps we could make healthier, better connections and games are an amazing space. In games, we can imagine these better futures that we want to have. »

It’s hard being human – so why not make it easier for each other rather than harder? It’s a big challenge – not just on mobile, but for humanity. »

It’s clear from their discussion the human connection gamers make and how this is baked into the future of the sector. How we use this opportunity is up to us.

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