I bet you've heard this one. A gamer who argues that a good game simply can't be made on a phone containing only one button. For a "hardcore" game you need a controller with a dozen buttons, or for the PC crowd, a keyboard with dozens. Few would argue that I could make a deeper, more strategic, tactical, and overall better game using only one button than I could using ten or more. But the fact is such a game already exists and it has for centuries. Go is a board game that is played with one hand. The best way to play Go electronically is on a touchscreen. Simply touch where you want to place your piece and you have mastered every single mechanic in Go. In fact the game only contains four or five rules. Essentially, in Go two players take turns placing either white or black stones on a 19x19 grid with the goal of surrounding more areas of the board than your opponent. The only move you can make is to place a stone on the board. There is only one type of stone. There is only one type of square. The only rule is that you can't place a stone that would revert the game back to the way it was the turn before. It's a game so simple a five year old could learn it. It is also the most difficult game to master in the world. It requires more tactics and strategy than can be learned in a lifetime. It is perfectly balanced in almost every way. There is no luck involved. The more skilled player will always win. Don't believe me when I say how deep the game is? What if I told you there are more end game possibilities than atoms in the known universe? Or that there are more variations to a single game than there are named numbers in human science? There are in fact so many variables in play at any moment in Go that it would take the most powerful computer in the world longer than the remaining lifespan of the universe to calculate a single move. Even taking into account only four turns ahead would take such a computer almost a year and there are hundreds of turns in a game of Go. The 360 would not be able to calculate even a single turn in advance if they had started the day it came out and ended the day the next Xbox comes out.
So in essence you have a game that can be played by a five year old with one finger that makes all our so called hardcore games look like children's toys. A game so complex that a computer can't play it. A game so complex that no one has ever truly mastered it. In fact if you ask the top Go players in the world what their strategies are, they say they don't have any. They enter the "zone" in a way most people can only dream of, where they play entirely by feel. They can't tell you why they made a move because they are not consciously making decisions. They are so at one with the game that they have every sense tuned to the board. They see patterns everywhere and from decades of experience they recognize these patterns and simply know what to play. Because of that it literally takes a lifetime to become a master at Go. It requires you to dedicate decades worth of time to become one with the game so much so that your body and the board are one and the same.
Go is the best game ever made. It is incredibly easy to learn, but takes a lifetime to master. It is almost perfectly balanced and does not feature any aspect of luck. It is the most pure game ever to exist. And it doesn't require 20 buttons and hundreds of moves to do it. Point is, games don't need to be complex to be deep. The best games are those that anyone can pick up and play but only a select few will ever master. That really is the only requirement and that can be done with one button or 20 buttons or with your bare hands on a board. Never mistake complex mechanics for deep gameplay. Complex mechanics are not a good thing. A game should be easy to learn. The depth should come from the way those simple rules and mechanics can be combined to create numerous variations that are all fair for every player and fun to achieve.
Now before you ask, I have said several times that Go is almost perfectly balanced. And yes, that means that even the best game in the world isn't perfect. There is one minor flaw in the game, and of course that flaw is that black goes first meaning the black player always has the advantage. This advantage is miniscule and for two even players it should not make any difference, but generally if a more skilled player goes first the other player will be given a small handicap to make up for it. So, no, there is no such thing as a perfect game.
What say you guys? If Go can be so complex than what stops some iPhone designer from making a game that puts console and PC games to shame? A game of such incredible depth that no one will ever truly master it? We don't need massive controllers to do that. All it takes is one mechanic, one rule, and infinite possibilities.