Game Over, iPhone

I’m a proponent of removing clutter. A clean workspace, physical or digital, helps reduce stress by eliminating distractions and adding lightness to your day. When the weight of clutter is removed from your desk, it’s also removed from your mind. Clean is calm.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to take a drastic step and delete the Games folder on my iPhone.

Going game-less on the iPhone is something Stephen Hackett has talked about on his site, 512 Pixels. I touched on it, but only recently have I decided to adopt Stephen’s thinking.

iOS is a terrific gaming platform, and there are many fun and beautifully designed games out there. But, in the four years I’ve owned an iPhone, there’s never been a game that has held my attention for very long. Maybe a month, if I was playing it with a friend, but such games are rare. Even ports of games I loved as a child, like Mega Man and Chrono Trigger, go mostly unplayed after the first couple of days.

So, I’ve decided to try getting rid of them, and I think the benefits will outweigh the consequences.

  1. No games = more space. Some games are pretty large and take up quite a bit of room on my phone. This isn’t a huge problem because I own a 32GB model iPhone 4, but now that iCloud is in full effect, I’m keeping more and more music on my phone instead of a separate iPod. There’s simply no reason to take up valuable space with unused apps, games included.

  2. No games = save money. I know: most iOS games are a couple of bucks at the most, but those dollars add up. According to iTunes, I’ve downloaded 240 apps since I got my first iPhone circa 2008. Some of those were free, but some of them were $4.99 or more. If I don’t have a Games folder on my iPhone, I’ll hesitate before buying any new games, especially since I can’t stand the thought of a folder with only two apps in it.

  3. No games = more productive. As I said, I’d rarely play the games on my iPhone, so it’s not like they were preventing me from getting things done. However, sometimes I’d choose a mindless game over doing something more useful, like reading an article in my Instapaper queue. Some may argue that it’s good to mindlessly play a game for a few minutes during a work or study break, but I think reading — or even not looking at a screen at all — is far more relaxing.

  4. No games = guilt-free. Most would argue that games don’t have feelings, but it’s hard not to feel bad about never playing that $9.99 5-star role-playing game you splurged on two weeks ago. Gone are those negative feelings; every little bit helps.

I’m probably going to personally offend a few friends with this decision, so let’s call it an experiment for now. I’m keeping the games on my iPad for the time being, since its larger screen is better suited for playing. As for my iPhone, unless the greatest game of all time becomes available for iOS, I can’t imagine I’ll miss my old Games folder. Although, if that day comes, I might have to give it a spot on my home screen.