Most people don't consider their mobile phone fun, but Nokia wants to change all that.

This week at E3 - the world’s leading electronic games extravaganza - the company launched its Mobile Entertainment Service by demonstrating networked games running on tiny mobile phone screens.

While some mobile phones already offer extremely primitive games such as Snake, this service will offer something different: the capability to play against one or more live opponents, says Timo Teimonen, general manager of business development for Nokia's wireless software solutions.

You'll be able to set up games with friends, seek out opponents through chat rooms, or compete against a large group on the network.

Anyone who has played interactive games on the Internet understands the thrill of competing against a real but invisible person, he says.

It's very different from playing a game against the computer, and for some players it lends a community element.

Early games for the service, such as chess and trivia, will be simple in design.

They'll consist of black-and-white bitmaps and simple animation. To play, you'll need the service and a Wireless Application Protocol WAP-capable phone, but it won't have to be a Nokia phone, Teimonen says.

And you won't buy the service directly from Nokia; you'll get it through your network service provider. Since it's up to your provider to get on board and offer the service, it's hard to say exactly when it will become widely available, he says.

It's also hard to guess what the pricing might be, although another Nokia spokesperson notes it will likely add £5 to £10 to your existing monthly fee.