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IPhone users are getting their game on

November 3, 2008 |  8:12 am

I didn't think it was possible, but my mom has surpassed me when it comes to dependence on the iPhone. The thing is, it's not for the reasons you might think.

IPhone screen shot Sure, she calls, e-mails and surfs the Web. She even sends text messages -- a task she never grasped with any consistency on her flip phone. And she thinks all of that is just peachy.

But more often than not, this senior citizen is tapping her way into the high-score tables. That's right, she's a grandma gamer.

As Alex Pham writes, games have become the fastest growing and most popular type of application for iPhone and iPod Touch owners.

To many, one of the most popular uses is as a handheld video game system.

For my technologically savvy mom, the iPhone is almost exclusively about getting her game on. Games were the first thing she asked for even as we were activating her phone.

She spends hours touching and toggling among Matches, Pyramid, Solitaire and Touch4 -- a version of the once-popular game Connect Four. 

On the other end of the age spectrum, the iPhone is just about the games to the children in my life.

When I first handed my iPhone to my 8-year-old godson, I thought he'd play a game or two, get bored, hand it back and move on to the next youthful distraction.

Instead, when I was finally able to retrieve my phone to check my e-mail and await a phone call, every 15 minutes or so, he'd return to ask very politely: "Michelle Auntie, may I play 'Monkey Ball' again?" And then with a little exasperation, "Um, haven't you gotten the phone call already? It's been six hours."

Now, there's an almost Pavlovian response to the slim and shiny rectangle when young eyes catch a glimpse of it moving from pocket to purse.

But who am I to talk? Whenever I can -- and, gulp, wherever I can (note to self: remember to turn the volume off when playing iPhone games during a bathroom break) -- I play Touch4 against players online or the iPhone itself. (I'm up, 507 wins to the device's 121.) I've spent hours on the couch after work tapping and tilting through Spore Origins to guide my creature "schplog" through its evolution and the primordial ooze.

I've previously called the iPhone an iPod that does other cool stuff, like make phone calls and Web-surf. But maybe users such as my mom will redefine that perception.

"One of these days," she said while tapping her way to a four-across Touch4 victory, "you'll have to tell me: What is this iPod?"

-- Michelle Maltais

Maltais is editorial broadcast manager for the Los Angeles Times.

What are the games that keep you connected to your mobile device? Share in the comments below.

Photo: Screen shot of Michelle's iPhone.