Game Boy a "stepping stone" to smartphones, according to video game historian

share to other networks share to twitter share to facebook

The Nintendo Game Boy is an iconic console that revolutionised the video games industry in the years following its 1989 release.

However, according to Kelsey Lewin, the co-director of the Video Game History Foundation, its impact stretches beyond gaming.

Speaking on CBC's Day 6 radio show, Lewin said: "I would say that the Game Boys really are sort of a stepping stone into what we think of as modern smartphones."

Here's why the Game Boy was more important than you may have thought.

Advertisement

The impact of the Game Boy

The Game Boy's influence on the wider technology industry came from its versatility as a computer device.

"It's a computer that you can actually build on," said Lewin. "You can build software or hardware, even accessories, to use with this already-existing computer."

This feature made the Game Boy attractive to both hardware and software developers eager to experiment with the handheld device.

As a portable device capable of running a variety of software with multiple accessories, it's easy to see the similarity between the Game Boy and a modern-day mobile phone.

GameBoyCamera
click to enlarge
Image: Amazon

The best Game Boy uses

Advertisement

If you had to pick one Game Boy accessory to compare to a mobile phone, it would be the Game Boy Camera.

Released in 1998, this allowed players to take a grey-scale picture, which would then be used in a selection of mini-games. Players could also edit and print out these images using the Game Boy Printer.

The unreleased WorkBoy accessory further cements the similarities between the Game Boy and a mobile phone. Revealed at CES in 1992, the WorkBoy featured a mini QWERTY keyboard and included an address book, clock, calendar, and currency conversion functionality. Nintendo and Fabtek Inc ultimately scrapped the accessory, as it would have been more expensive than the Game Boy.

READ MORE: Could Microsoft release a portable Xbox to compete with the Nintendo Switch?