chapter  9
20 Pages

Touching the Screen: A Phenomenology of Mobile Gaming and the iPhone


With every change to our technological interfaces, there is a corresponding modifi cation to perceptual reach and communicative possibility. The shift from analogue to digital technologies and forms of media over the past fi fty years has mobilized a critical transition in how we relate to and make meaning of the world. One of the most signifi cant cultural eff ects of this translation of image and information into digital code is the increasing predominance of telepresent screen interfaces and media forms. As Jon Olav Eikenes and Andrew Morrison observe, contemporary screen technologies are dynamic and multi-modal, literally “sites” for a range of activities and situated uses.2 Today, mobile media devices and “wearable” screens are becoming both increasingly ubiquitous and personalized, penetrating and transforming everyday cultural practices and spaces, and further disrupting distinctions between private and public, place and space, ready-tohand and telepresent interaction, actual and virtual environments. In this chapter I examine how one such technology-the touchscreen smartphone exemplifi ed by the iPhone-has had an impact on our embodied perception of space, place and (tele)presence. In particular, I consider the spatial and locative eff ects of pervasive and networked mobile gaming-an occasional and high-end practice-and then off er a comparative analysis of the much more mundane and common activity of casual mobile gaming.