Nokia N-Gage as an immersive gaming platform

With the relaunch of the Nokia N-Gage gaming platform getting closer and closer, the noise about the possible N-Gage devices and their functionality, features of the platform, games available for it is getting louder.

Well, today I decided to add my 2 cents to it too.

While browsing through the U.S. Patent database I came upon an interesting Nokia patent application named “Gaming device, method, and computer program product for modifying input to a native application to present modified output” , which describes an immersive gaming platform that your Nokia N-Gage enabled mobile phone can become soon.


The basic idea is pretty simple. Instead of of playing and stopping the mobile games at a discreet periods, the gaming application will be continuously running in the background. And it will also be able to monitor, interrupt and change other phone functions like speaker sound, camera, viewfinder output, keyboard input, GPS data, etc; according to the rules/needs/features of the game.

Nokia even gives some examples of how such games might look like:

  • the game story involves encounter with aliens on Earth but that are invisible to humans. Using the gaming device, however, the user can search for aliens and try to discover their hidden base. The gaming application, while executing in the background, may detect when user is viewing through the camera viewfinder in the gaming device. The gaming application may at times (e.g., randomly) intercept the camera viewfinder image before the image is provided to the camera application and modify the image. The gaming application may add faint silhouettes of alien characters to the camera image in real time. The user may keep the camera viewfinder active and pan around, and possibly see a semitransparent alien character. The gaming application could cause such added images to only temporarily appear on the display. By clicking the trigger and taking a picture, the user may be able to store the picture of the humanoid character.
  • the game story involves the user being teleported to random locations across the world. The gaming application, while executing in the background, may detect when the user is checking the gaming device’s thermometer application, or when the user checks the current geographic position using the gaming devices GPS application. The gaming application may intercept the standard temperature or location input and replace the standard input with a modified input. The native application would then use the modified input to generate an output (that includes the modified input data) to be presented to the user. For example, the gaming application could cause a modified map showing the user’s location as Antarctica and a modified temperature display of minus 50 degrees C. to be presented to the user. The gaming application has overridden the sensor information to present the game’s alternate reality.
  • the game story indicates that high-pitched screams signal the approach of large flying monsters. The gaming application, while executing in the background, may detect when the user activates the FM radio receiver application in the gaming device. The gaming application may intercept the standard received radio broadcast and modify the audio to add high-pitched screams in the background of the audio to indicate the presence of the dangerous monsters.
  • the gaming application, while executing in the background, may detect when the user activates the keypad or keyboard and begins typing. Rather than displaying the text that the user is actually typing, the gaming application may cause the display of modified text that provides clues to a mystery to be solved by the user.

Of course such non-standard smartphone functionality interruptions might become really annoying at times, so you’ll be able to easily suspend immersive gaming mode anytime.

On the other hand, such immersive gaming functionality opens a whole new area in mobile gaming with a huge potential for a new cool mobile games to emerge.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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