By Kim Tran
When Novato High students and teachers have free time, they usually go straight to their phones. Some people use their phones for social media and texting, while other people use them to play games. I set out on a quest to find out what mobile phone games Novato High students and teachers play in their spare time.
Film teacher Peter Ornstein said he plays Pokémon Go during his free time, despite hating mobile games.
“It’s weird because normally I hate mobile games; it’s a time waster. When this came out, I thought that it was the coolest,” said Ornstein. “I know that the rest of the world stopped playing, but I’m probably the only guy left who still is doing it maybe for 10 to 15 minutes a day. I like the whole collecting aspect of it. There’s always something that keeps me going.”
Pokémon Go was one of the mobile games that became very popular in 2016. The game features an element of going into the real world (also called augmented reality) and interacting with Pokémon. The game has been praised for encouraging people go outside and exercise, but it has also received criticism for causing bizarre crimes and car accidents.
English teacher Christie Wright described what she liked to play in her free time.
“I have played Pokémon Go of course. I also have played Fallout Shelter and I may have played the Kardashian game, even though that’s very embarrassing,” said Wright. “It was a fun way to pass the time. I really liked Pokémon Go because it actually got me outside and everyone was playing it. It was fun to talk to friends and students about what they’ve found and the new things that you could do.”
Senior Benjamin Guardado enjoys playing a popular game called Ballz.
“Usually when I go onto my phone, I play whatever’s trending most, and what’s trending now is a game called Ballz, where you get a ball and you shoot it up into the air,” said Guardado. “It’s kind of the old iPod phone game called Bricks. You shoot a ball on a platform and it goes up and hits a ball and one of the bricks comes down and it goes back and forth. This is the new version of it, where you angle it and it's like the same thing but with multiple balls as you go through harder levels. That’s the only game I usually play on my phone and it’s really trending too.”
English teacher Nicole Slavin explained that playing Words with Friends helps her connect with others.
“I like Words with Friends for a couple of reasons,” said Slavin. “One is that the people I play with I don’t get to see very often. That’s kind of fun for me. The other reason is that it is good brain exercise. It’s a hard game to play, especially with the people that I have played with.”
AP European History teacher Jason Searle also plays games to fill time.
“Clash of Clans and I have a FIFA mobile app. It’s just part of my other game from my Xbox,” said Searle, referring to his favorite phone attractions. “Games give me something to do on my downtime. I like that it’s something that I go to quickly and mess around with.”
Sophomore Benny Schueler has a variety of games he is drawn to.
“I play Dungeon Hunter 5, a new game called Hyperburner, Temple Run 2 and Bloons Tower Defense 5,” said Schueler. “I play them because it is fun and when I'm bored, I can play some fun games.”
World History and Journalism teacher Josh Rosenberg does not play games, but his wife Shanee does.
“I mainly play time management games and sometimes strategy games,” Shanee described. “I play them because it helps me relieve stress and get my mind off things after a long day. My faves are Cooking Dash, Diner Dash, Momentum Valley and Doors and Rooms.”
Chemistry teacher Justin Louie acknowledged playing card games and role play games in his free time.
“I play Hearthstone pretty regularly. Right now, I have the Fire Emblem [and] downloaded Final Fantasy. I play lots of different games,” said Louie.
Mobile games have incorporated the idea of allowing the player to do a limited amount of actions at a time. For example, Clash Royale lets the player acquire new cards through chests but the player must wait anywhere from 3 hours to a couple of days to open their chests. Mobile game companies have also created an in-game currency system called microtransactions, where players use real money to buy game currency and items.
Sophomore Irene Soriano tried playing a game based on a viral video.
“I just play random games like the ‘Cash Me Outside’ game but it’s too hard so I don’t play it anymore,” said Soriano. “It’s about this girl that went viral because she was on Dr. Phil and so everybody started playing. So I tried it and I hated it.”
What becomes popular and featured in the App store always seems to vary. Endless runners like Temple Run has been a genre of games that keeps the player engaged. A favorite among students are Game Pigeon games. Game Pigeon games are mini games that are exclusive to iPhone users and is played through text messages. Games include 8-ball, Pool, Poker, Chess and Checkers.
Playing mobile games is a prevalent hobby on campus that captures the attention of the masses. Whether it is out of boredom, stress, or to keep us entertained, mobile phone games are here to stay.