Top 10 Best Non-Violent iPhone Games

December 14, 2011

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Anita Sarkeesian

Executive Director and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Enthusiast

Here is my Top 10 List of favourite non violent video games for the iPhone.  I compiled this list because, while there is a huge variety of different types of video games, the testosterone driven, shoot em up style tends to dominate discussions about “serious gaming” and can feel exclusionary and alienating to a lot of other people who may be interested in exploring alternative forms of gaming. Plus these games are loads of fun to play!

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Full transcript below the cut

Here is my Top 10 List of favourite non violent video games for the iPhone.  I compiled this list because, while there is a huge variety of different types of video games, the testosterone driven, shoot em up style tends to dominate discussions about “serious gaming” and can feel exclusionary and alienating to a lot of other people who may be interested in exploring alternative forms of gaming. Plus these games are loads of fun to play!

Related Links and Articles:

Transcript

It’s no secret that the gaming industry is still unfortunately a very male dominated, male centric place (from the developers to the storylines to the in-game characters).

So it’s important to note that “realistic-looking” first-person shooters and other games that employ graphic violence and sexist imagery are not the only games out there even though they do tend to get most of the attention when it comes to talk of “serious” gaming.

Because I’m often frustrated with the male dominated, blood and guts, testosterone driven shoot em up games that seem to dominate the xbox and ps3 platforms, it’s refreshing to see so many games on Apple’s iOS that focuses on puzzle solving and creative storytelling.

iOS is the shorthand for Apple computer’s mobile operating system which is used on their iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.

Even with (or perhaps because of) its limited graphics and processor capabilities the iOS platform has managed to expand the scope of what gaming can be. We’ve seen a flood of highly imaginative and engaging games that borrow from 80’s era classics as well as breaking new ground with simple and innovative gameplay.

Having so many creative, simple, intuitive and non-traditional games available right in our pockets has really helped bring gaming to a wider range of people (including to more women) who may never have considered themselves gamers before.

These are some of the reasons why I find myself playing games on my phone much more than I do on the more traditional gaming platforms. My iPhone is always there for me when I’m waiting in a long line, riding the subway, or sitting in a boring meetng.

With somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 games currently available for iOS it’s not an easy task to pick out the best of the best. So for this particular top ten list I decided to narrow the field a bit. While I really love games like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies, I’m reserving this list for games that are based on non violent problem solving. Of course I recognize that Angry Birds uses an adorable and comical form of cartoon violence – plus those damn pigs really do deserve it!

I want to make absolutely clear that I am in no way saying that games that involve violence are always bad or have no value.

What I am saying is, at their best video games can promote problem solving skills, critical thinking, creative mathematics and confidence building.

One of the things many feminist movements have advocated for over the decades is non-violent conflict resolution and creative ways to solve both domestic and international disputes – so while these games might not be explicitly feminist per se, they do focus on problem solving.

So with that, here’s my top 10 favorite (mostly) non-violent games for the iPhone that don’t involve beating anything to death with a stick.

Tiny Wings is an adorable game about a little bird whose wings are too small to fly.  It’s a simple one touch button but don’t be deceived by its simplicity, getting that little bird to fly can be tricky.

World of Goo was originally created for a PC platform and was formatted to fit the iPhone and I’ve got to say, it was an incredibly fun game on the computer but it’s even more compelling on the iPhone which is touch screen.  This physics based puzzle game involves building bridges, towers and other structures to move the goo balls from one place to another.

Groove Coaster is an audio/visual game that tests your rhythm.  You have to tap on the screen every time a bubble appears on the track, which corresponds to the beats of the music.  It’s not that complex but the combination of the geometric visuals and rhythmic music make the experience compelling and engaging.

Cut the Rope is a physics based puzzle game where you have to feed a piece of candy to a frog, in addition to the main goal you have three stars to acquire before feeding the frog in order to get a high score. And you really want to pass each level because he looks so sad when you don’t feed him.

Whale Trail is a whimsical and simple game where you help Willow the Whale fly through the rainbow sky dodging the Thunder Brothers, collecting bubbles and making friends.

Bumpy Road is a cute cartoony game that follows a family traveling through their car along the bumpy road while collecting things on the way.  You control the movement of the car by manipulating the bumps in the road.

drop7 is a number puzzle game that at first seems simple but gets complex during game play.  You drop numbered discs into rows and columns to match the number of discs in that row or column or a disc with that number in the row or column, and you have to clear out discs before the board maxes out.

Flight Control is a simple and compelling game where you have land different  aircrafts without crashing into each other.  However it’s a questionable inclusion on a Feminist Frequency list because of it’s sexism.  While the game play only includes planes and helicopters, the menu exploits a retro sexist style image of a woman dressed up in various costumes.

Edge Extended is a puzzle game that involves rolling a cube around a maze as quickly as possible.  But to reach the end of each level you have to avoid falling off the edge as well as traveling along moving floors and walls.

Contre Jour is a stunningly beautiful physics game where you have to manipulate the world around the hero Petit as opposed to moving the hero himself.  To move Petit to the objective you have to nudge the ground and manipulate various environmental elements. Plus, fun fact, the protagonist is named after the classic french children’s book Le Petit Prince.

Just like television, movies and music, video games are part of our pop culture landscape and as such play a role in the way that we come to understand and engage with the world around us. They are a part of our social development and at their best they can do more than entertain (though they do that too).

Some of these games are also available on Google’s Android as well as other mobile operating systems, so go play them, have fun and be sure to tell me what your favourite games are!

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