RIP iPod, home of the mobile gaming renaissance (2001-2022)

A row of iPod Minis slowly bleeds its colors into the bottom of the frame in a 2009 ad.

Photo: justin sullivan (Getty Images)

Pour one for each kid who strapped a backpack in middle school, because they’re probably in mourning today. With Apple’s discontinuation of the 7th generation iPod Touch, announced yesterdayIt’s official: the iPod is dead.

Apparently, the iPod was a music device, meant to digitize song libraries and take listeners away from the limitations and galactic best sound quality of physical media. (Whether such a change was good for the music industry is, of course, another story.) But over its many iterations, the iPod also heralded another revolution: that of mobile gaming.

Once upon a time, mobile gaming was all about playing Brick or Snake on your parents’ dusty Nokia. And of course, after its launch in 2001, the iPod, which literally featured a wrong wearing Brick after the device launched in 2001 – had a similar landscape for some time. Over the next few years, the offers increased, but not by much. In 2006, EA has released iPod versions hit classics like Sudoku and Lonely. Kaplan, the for-profit education giant, has released a series of SAT Prep Study Courses (to which I can only say: lol). Compared to other mobile gaming devices of the time, like, say, the Nintendo DS, the iPod was hardly revolutionary.

Then came the iPod Touch.

First released in 2007, the iPod Touch completely reinvented the design of the iPod. Rather than a brick with an awkwardly controlled command dial, the iPod Touch looked a lot like its contemporary, the iPhone: sleek, rectangular, affixed with a glass touchscreen that covered its entire silhouette. Unlike the iPhone, you couldn’t use an iPod Touch to summon and instantly lose the courage to compose your crush from algebra. But if you had a Wifi connection, you could download a bunch of games that would at least distract you. during algebra.

And some of the games back then were really great. fruit ninja! Tap Tap Revenge! Words between friends! Temple race practically created, or at least widely popularized, a new genre, laying the groundwork for truly great endless runners like Alto’s Odyssey. Personally, I had a weakness for doodle jump, a platform game that features you as an elephant (?) wearing a jetpack. The visuals, stylized to look like a lined notebook, are inked in memory. But for me, at least, it was also a first introduction to the wider world of rankings.

Some games, quality aside, have become legitimate cultural juggernauts. angry Birds spawned a feature film, as well as crossovers with star wars and Transformers, and a gazillion other spinoffs. (My grandmother once bought me a angry Birds bath mats assuming that since i love video games i must to like angry Birdsthe only video game.) The impact has been undeniable.

Raise your hand if these ads left an indelible impact on you as well.

Thus, the announcement of the death of the iPod triggered a strong wave of nostalgia in Kotaku‘s Slack this afternoon.

Editor Lisa Marie Segarra shouted out just about every game listed above and further pointed out that the iPod was a catalyst for the undeniable candy Crush infatuation. She also praised the tilt controls that came with some games, which were “so innovative at the time. Or at least that was how it was.

“What a time to be alive,” added writer Zack Zwiezen. “I really miss the old days of the App Store. … We definitely have good things today, but I can’t help but dream of those simpler times when I drank fake beer and played with counterfeit lightsaber apps.

Times are indeed less simple. Rather than the handful of must-have options, Apple’s gaming ecosystem is bigger than ever, as big games – everything from blockbusters like XCOM and Genshin Impact to independent tubes like Wild Hearts of Sayonara and Baba it’s you– head to the App Store. Apple Arcade, a subscription service that provides access to a library of games, is slowly becoming essential scouting ground for under-the-radar gems. (Many Apple Arcade games eventually make it to Nintendo Switch or traditional consoles, where they become “legitimized” in the eyes of the hardcore gamer, which continues to obscure the origins of mobile games.)

But each time one of these once-essential devices breathes its last, I’m struck by the finality – how everything, no matter how long it seems to last or its cultural impact, is fleeting, a fleeting moment you don’t realize that it was fleeting until it was gone. As they say, wouldn’t it be nice to recognize that you’re living in the good times when you’re actually living in the good times? I think so.

Anyway, yes, RIP on the iPod. You ran well. You left a great legacy. And to really get all of the mid-2000s: Thank you mmrs.

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