Video games and the way people connect with them, and to others, has changed so drastically in the past 10 years it's practically unrecognizable from what we remember during our childhood. Multiplayer used to mean that all the players needed to be in the same room, sharing the screen with the other 3 players. Things are much different now in 2012 (and even more so in the near future)...
Oh, and gone are the days too when finishing a game was all that was necessary to say you had "completed it". Now to truly say you've accomplished such a feat you have to earn all the achievements or trophies associated with that game. It's a different world and you can easily get lost if you don't have the right tools.
Fortunately for you, thanks to the magic of mobile apps, you can now track your gaming achievements and online friends through a number of official and unofficial apps provided through the various mobile app stores on Android, Windows Phone, and iOS.
Game Center (iOS)
For iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users you have the native, Apple-made app known as Game Center. By definition, it lets you "expand your social gaming network", which it does so by listing your friends, gaming achievements, leaderboards, and also offering the ability to request and challenge your buddies on shared games. It's free and pretty basic in what it does, but it gets the job done for what you need it to do on a mobile setting.
My Xbox LIVE (iOS / Windows Phone)
Microsoft released an official Xbox LIVE app for iOS recently, dubbed "My Xbox Live" which not only lets you check your latest achievements but also watch your animated Xbox Avatar the way you would on your home console, even seeing them play with any equipped props they have on hand. The app also gives you the freedom to communicate with friends through messages, check your achievements and recently played games, and even watch the current Spotlight videos hosted by Xbox. And it's all even accompanied by all the usual Xbox Live sound effects you're used to hearing coming from your tv. The app comes free and requires only your Windows LIVE info to sign on.
Playstation Official app (iOS* / Android)
The PSN app is free and gives you access to your trophy list, friends list, however it's a limited in the fact that you can't send messages to those friends. In place of social features is an extensive catalog filled with all of the games on all of the Playstation platforms (PS2, PS3, PSP, Vita). Not only that, but you can even read the latest news posted on Playstation Blog.
* Only available on iOS in Europe. It is not currently available in the North American region.
Steam Mobile (iOS / Android)
Of all the apps listed so far, the Steam Mobile app is by far the most comprehensive. It may have taken Steam a long time to get on the mobile side of things, but like most things that Valve is involved with, they don't make a move unless they absolutely sure it's going to be perfect. This is the case here; it offers everything the other apps mentioned above do, like friends lists, recently played games, and messaging. But where it truly exceeds expectations is the freedom it gives you to search through the Steam catalog and purchase games right off the app and queue them up on your computer for download at the next opportunity.
Images: Ricardo Trejo