I’ve been wondering when Amazon would attempt to integrate gaming into its Kindle ebook devices. Although there were a couple of attempts to make Sudoku for Kindle, it didn’t really work. It’s taken a couple of years and hardware upgrades, but we’re finally seeing the first generation of real Kindle games.
Well, no one’s going to mistake them for iPhone apps. Between the black-and-white graphics and the lack of touchscreen input, this is a fairly stripped down gaming experience. But that’s not really the point.
When the newspapers die, however, they will take a couple of key cultural items with them. No, I’m not talking about the news. In the age of the internet, that’s everywhere. I’m talking about meaningful cultural touchstones: the daily comic strip and the puzzle page. Although comic art is one of my passions, we’re not here to discuss that.
This is where Kindle and other e-readers come in. If mainstream news has any hope of surviving, it has to adapt not merely to the internet, but to all forms of e-readers and mobile devices. Those devices will need to offer the complete package: news, editorial, local information, ads, printable coupons, comic strips, and interactive puzzles.
In the meantime, we’re starting to get a sense of what these games will look as Amazon starts to get serious about games, starting with two freebies: Shuffled Row and Every Word
Both are word games that make the most of the Kindle keyboard and interface. Interestingly, both are also reminiscent of Scrabble Flash.
Every Word has a similar setup. There are 6 letter tiles in a row, and a number of blank spaces beneath. The blank spaces indicate just how many words can be made from hese letters, and your goal is to find them all. Longer words score more points. There is both a “Relaxed” mode which allows you all the time you need to solve the puzzle, and a “Timed” mode, which doesn’t.
These are decent games that play to the Kindle’s strengths. They don’t require a lot of in-game navigation, which would be hard to do with the Kindle controls. Instead, they simply use the keyboard for word input. They’re not going to replace anyone’s existing word games, but they provide an easy diversion that people can carry along with their e-reader.
Later this week, I’ll take a look at Scrabble for Kindle after I spend some quality time with it. (I take my Scrabble seriously.)