Oh what an age we live in!

Recently, whilst relaxing at the Air New Zealand Lounge in Auckland Airport awaiting an eleven hour flight to Los Angeles, my brother told me about a cool game I should try.

It sounded interesting and the price was right, so I purchased it and began playing without leaving my seat. With Apple's iPhone, it's just that simple. It's exciting to be alive in a time where you can hear about a game, pay for it, then download and install it all in a matter of five minutes.

The iPhone isn't just a revolutionary handset, it’s also an up-and-coming portable gaming device. Not only can it give Nintendo’s DSi and Sony’s PSP a run for their money in the graphical department, it has got them both beat in the ease of accessibility of its gaming library, not to mention the number of games available and their prices. While not all developers have gotten their heads around the touch screen controls and built-in accelerometer, many of them have mastered the iPhones quirky input mechanism, and this makes for some really unique titles. Sure, you have the standard stuff like racing games, Sudoku and some basic shooters, but there are also some stand-out games like Rolando, Zen Bound and Galcon. These games use the controls well, are plenty of fun, and look spectacular with their 3D graphics and simple art style.

Probably the biggest advantage of iPhone gaming can be found in the wallet department. These games are really cheap when you compare them to other hand held-games on the market. There are plenty of free games, and the most you'll find yourself paying for a popular title is about $20, which makes a lot of these games really great value for money. Another plus is just how easily you can get them on your phone. It's a simple matter to find them on the App Store in iTunes, and because of the iTunes rating and review system it won’t take you long to find quality games among the thousands of choices available.

If there's one downside to playing games on your iPhone, it's the battery life. You can usually only get about three hours or so out of it before needing a recharge. While this makes it perfect for that bus commute or domestic flight, or perhaps waiting for your partner to do some shopping, it isn’t suitable for extended periods of gaming. On any other gaming device, the only drawback from a drained battery is that you can’t play anymore, however with the iPhone it’ll mean your lines of communication have been severed, and for most people it’s not worth enduring a dead phone simply to play some games.

Of course, if you are using an iPod Touch, then this is much less of a concern. The iPod Touch can have more storage, it seems to run games a bit smoother and has slightly more battery life. Also when the battery does go dead from too much gaming, the only penalty is you can’t use your iPod until the next recharge.

It is exciting to see what the iPhone has accomplished already in its short life span, and with the release of its iPhone 3.0 operating system update in a few months there will be more options available to the gaming community. The two most exciting of which involve more accessible online play, and the ability to purchase downloadable content straight from within the games.

The future looks very bright for the device, and while there is no shortage of new games coming out on a regular basis you're almost guaranteed to find one or two new favourites each week. How many gaming devices can honestly say they have that kind of growth to their gaming library?

I played quite a bit of that game I purchased while on my flight to LA; an arcade title called Galcon. It's a fantastic timewaster, however despite mastering the ability to send swarms of space ships out to take over the galaxy, it was unable to distract me from the crying baby I was stuck next to for the whole flight. Some things never change!