Let’s produce HTML5 games with a serious approach.

Let’s produce HTML5 games with a serious approach.

Most of gamers use to playing entertaining, funny, or not very engaging games. The aim of such games is pure relax and escape from everyday duties and efforts. But it doesn’t work in all cases this way. Presently, we are seeing very fast growth of the mobile market with more and more variations of apps and games showing up to compete for interested customers. HTML5 gaming became one solution which can change the approach to game production. With the great advantage of cross platform features, HTML5 developer products can work on almost any platform we like. Any interactive standalone or mobile device with browser support can become a platform for HTML5 games. This potential can be used in many ways. Cross platform games can entertain, but they can also teach, help with experiments, or show new solutions to people of all ages. What I’m trying to prove here is that mobile gaming doesn’t have to be only “a pig shooting contest”, but it can also be a journey presenting a great experience for youngsters or allow exploration for the elderly who don’t have as much experience as the younger generations.

Education & gaming – how it would work?

Inspiration for this article came from a blog entry I stumbled across lately. The serious side of playing games unveils how serious games can be. We often hear, “Games are bad, don’t play them, they make you stupid and aggressive.” I wouldn’t agree with that. Of course we can notice productions that aren’t appropriate for certain age, or the game can be so bad and offensive that it can teach gamers something negative. But here I would like to prove that with the proper approach to gaming, we can achieve much more than many education systems have in the past. Quote from Euro News article by Zachary Sherin, an undergraduate student explains:

“Certain types of education, the old ones using text books are being shoved aside by new, interactive media. Games have an incredible potential to gather people’s interest in topics that they might not otherwise enjoy.”

This MIT student was taking part in a process of “A Slower Speed of Light” development, a game which explains the theory of relativity by enabling gamers to experience it. You can now imagine, how big an influence on young students this kind of education can have. Even an unimaginable process, which in books or on paper or boards would be difficult to explain, can be explained faster in a game because it activates receptors responsible for understanding faster. Students can imagine the most complicated processes in a very cool and plain way. Isn’t that better? Such research is also a great way to lead in technology development. Colleges and schools don’t have to stick to the old methods. I believe that students would be much more interested in science, biology, history, and other school subjects if more smart gaming would appear in classrooms.

Now, how can the HTML5 technology help here? Imagine that on each desk you can find a tablet (It may also be a student’s private device or smartphone), and the teacher enables access to a web application during lectures. All of the students access the application and can be a part of an experiment. For example, they can play a game which explains how the immunology systems works in the human body. They may be divided into teams, in which part of students are germs and the other part are antibodies which defend the body. All of the participants would play this game simultaneously in one gaming area, no matter what device they use. What’s more, they don’t even have to be in the classroom! A teacher can expand this experiment for longer period of time and reward those who have the best scores and understanding of the topic. That’s only an example, but only the imagination can limit us here.

There are already many examples of such educational gaming approach. Especially we see it in Toddlers – which is a term for applications/games created especially for small children. As an example of HTML5 development approach I found Terrabook, a Korean company which specializes in building educational mobile apps for kids. I noticed that there are many native Toddlers already available on the market, and I believe that HTML5 mobile apps/games for kids can be also a great solution. Every parent can access them much faster just by clicking the link and having them always available in any place of the apartment. A web mobile Toddler as a cross platform app can be watched as a bedtime story on a tablet in a child’s room, or it can be used when we need to keep children focused and we can watch it with them on a Smart TV in our bedroom. Sounds really great, and it helps expand a child’s intelligence and imagination. It could be used for example for learning the ALPHABET.

An educational mobile gaming approach can also be used in different situations among a variety of target groups. Elderly people can prevent themselves from dementia thanks to engaging with games and applications that encourage brain usage. The same solution can be used in a special care facility where people with certain disorders can activate their brain activity faster or recuperate. Imagination becomes the only limitation in the process for creating these types of games and apps. I believe that in this situation, many companies can raise or are already raising resources for private and government financed interactive education. Games aren’t only a time wasting monster.. If they are used in a good way, they may bring a lot of benefit to developers and the people who use them. Educational games can fill the gap and create new business solutions for HTML5 gaming market, and in this situation we can see a brighter future for web based gaming.

Image courtesy of [nuttakit] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. Maniek

    You kinda misunderstand the connection between technology and idea – there isnt any. Html5 got nothing to do with idea of multiplatform gaming. Youve made many asumptions, that may not be correct. First of all – browser mobile gaming almost doesnt exists, basicly cause native games are easier to get, they are faster and theres more of them. Html5 in THEORY is crossplatfom solution, in practice, some things work, some things dont. Most important – html5 (or to be precise – js) was not designed to create big/medium applications, like games. There is a reason, why companies after a few tries with html5, mostly move away from html5 as a platform (Rovio/Angry birds, Facebook, Wooga), cause the technology is not here, and it will not be ready for next at least few years. Main html5 gaming feature (wich actually is not a part of html5 specs) – WebGL, is not available i Apple devices, and probably never will be, as it threatens the appstore business model. Its also not available in current editions of IE`s, and on firefox and chrome – well, it sometimes works. Html5 is already a past, as another overrated web technology.

    • Maniek,

      I totally agree with you. I am right now in the midst of cross browser compatibility hell for a mobile game I am developing in HTML5.

  2. Galaga

    I won’t agree with you Maniek:
    – mobile browser gaming exists, and it’s developing well. Examples? More and more networks/publishers are supporting it: Boostermedia, Mocospace, Queep, Tylted, Kimia… Have you made any research to confirm your comments?
    – native games market is getting too frustrating, and it’s harder to promote games there. HTML5 mobile gaming is really easy to promote,just by sending a link to anyone without downloading the game. It’s a niche market that lives on it’s own now, but in future it may become much bigger
    – there is more web mobile games than you think. It has been reported over 1000 on market in begining 2013, now this number can be higher
    – games are performing better than they used to in the past – check out latest games by Tresensa, Non Stop Games – they focus on HTML5
    – cross platform doesn’t exist? Come on, a skilled developer can manage to code them. I saw Bushido’s games and they are working on various devices without a problem
    – I don’t see any reason to follow big companies. Im making web mobile games myself, and if I would follow others thinking I wouldn’t never move forward

    Every technology needs time, I don’t see a reason why someone should stop working on something that works, and develops better and better :)

    • Can you point me to a badass html5 game that works awesome on all mobile browsers please… Sanity check for me.

      • It depends on how far you need to take the “all mobile browsers” demand. I find it odd that companies will have no qualms spending six figures to make an iOS-only app but when presented with HTML5 they demand that it work on every platform that ever existed.

        If you want it to run on ancient Android phones and old Blackberries then, yeah, you’re going to go through hell to do it. iOS 6 and Android ICS or better and you should have far fewer problems. And don’t use DOM.

  3. Galaga

    First of all I wouldn’t compare performance of natives and HTML5 games. These are to different worlds, and HTML5 is still a niche. Natives have app stores for distribution, web mobile games have mobile networks where they work out best (they can of course be transferred into wrapper, but that depends on developers idea).
    Remember that 2 years ago HTML5 games weren’t as good as they are now, now they perform better. Almost every technology had a poor start and support. As Kyle said if you want to launch new web mobile game on old phones you may for sure get bad performance… same as you would launch Skyrim on 1.1 Ghz PC ;)There is one thing that would solve the performance problem – accesing the CPU, but it causes other problems. Maybe there will be a solution for that too.

    • Maniek

      Just like You wrote – mobile browser gaming is a niche. Limits are overwhelming. You are right, skilled developer is able to create such game, thing is, that he will have many issues on his way to do so. That means costs and time, wich makes browser mobile gaming not cheap, and not very efficient – that is exactly why its a niche. Poor performance > more time spent on optimization, less posibilities and options in Your game. And what are the pros? Simple linking? You have to download game assets every single time you enter the game. Playing offline? Not going to happen (Maybe something changed lately, Im not sure) Sure, You dont have to make it work between ALL the devices, but even if that makes it 4-6 types of devices – thats a lot. Especially that there arent many (or even any) good debugging tools. Ask any kind of developer, thats pain in the a**. There`s a common saying: Html5 – write once, debug everywhere. That is not what I mean when I say crossplatform! Thats exatly opposite.

      Of course I know a few good html5 games – my favourite “Starve to death”, but thing is, like I said, it uses webGL, and is NOT crossplatform. for me html5 is incredible step back. Maybe for those that did not used some more mature technologies before, html5 is a cool new feature, but I see it as a major failure, and a step in very wrong direction right now. Its still the same old html, with every issue it had for years, and we hated it for.

  4. Rockger

    Excuse my English.
    This is a very interesting article and support the HTML5 game development.
    1) Turbulenz | An Open Source game engine 2D and 3D in HTML5, with this engine can create grander HTML5 games and high quality, you can see some examples: http://biz.turbulenz.com/samples
    2) HTML5 technology is growing everyday and are creating large projects such as Tizen: Mobile OS based on Linux, sponsored by Linux Foundation and the LiMo Foundation. Tizen MeeGo originates, which in turn was a combination of Moblin mobile operating systems, created by Intel, and Maemo, created by Nokia, and is intended to replace. The MeeGo codebase is still available. Development is led by Intel, Samsung, and some ex-developers of MeeGo.
    The Tizen development interfaces are based on HTML5 and other web standards and is designed for use on tablets, netbooks, smartphones, smart TVs and integrated systems for information and entertainment. https://www.tizen.org/
    3) We can compare games with HTML5 and native applications that are worlds diferenteces.
    4) large companies like GameMaker of YoYoGames, Construct2 of Scirra, ImpactJS, ect. games have powerful engines, look at this article Scirra: https://www.scirra.com/blog/85/the-great-html5-mobile-gaming-performance-comparison and this other https://www.scirra .com/blog/107/boosting-mobile-html5-game-performance-with-webgl
    5) can be created using HTML5 websockets MMO games, javascript .. using node.js and socket.io. BrowserQuest: https://hacks.mozilla.org/2012/03/browserquest/

  5. przemek

    Thank you all for your comments :) It’s really nice to hear different points of view over the HTML5 gaming topic. It means that web mobile gaming still raises discussion with various arguments. I’ll be keeping you updated with new interesting entries very soon.

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