Mac OS X has never been a haven for people who enjoy video games. In years past, various Apple marketing campaigns have weakly touted some technology or other present in Mac OS X that gives it some gaming advantage. However, the serious gaming audience still seems to hold the opinion that Macs are not for games. Enter iOS.
From the beginning, even when no AppStore existed, iOS and the devices that run it, seemed to be made for gaming. Thus we have our Angry Birds and our Tiny Wings and Draw Something. In fact a whole new market has emerged around simple, low time-commitment games. It’s not a bad strategy—its a great strategy, of course—but simplicity and quickness reminiscent of the bygone quarter-munching days is not and should not be the whole of the gaming market on any platform.
As an original iPhone owner, I’ve always been interested in the possibilities outside the addmittedly addictive and sometimes stellar get-in-get-out games on the platform.
Traditional longform gaming experiences have evolved over the years with two major control types: the mouse-and-keyboard, and the console controller. iOS has neither. Though this stumbling block seems important, it may not have to be. The control problem is one of design. Look at computer application interfaces over the years and you may see parallel trends to gaming control. Some applications have become snarled nests of menu options and buttons, while others have reduced onscreen interface elements in the name of elegance and simplicity. Console controllers have become (and mouse and keyboard always was) an example of the former. iOS exemplifies the latter, and so must its games, even if those games are lognform.
So how can the platform move forward? One way is through ambitious projects like Republique from Camoflaj. Without risks like this, the only commercially successful games will remain similar to those smaller projects listed above. As with the chicken and the egg, funding wont come until there is a proven audience and the audience wont come until a game can get funded. Based on early footage, Republique looks to exploit the less-is-more control mechanisms of iOS, rather than graft on an awkward imitation of the console controller or mouse and keyboard of the PC.
A discussion of AAA iOS games cannot be complete without at least one Infinity Blade reference. Chair blazed a trail for more traditional looking games, but those who are serious about the medium cannot let it stop there. There are deeper, more meaningful experiences to be had on iOS, so much potential, of which Infinity Blade only scratches the surface. If that potential can be realized, iOS may yet avoid the failures of the Mac as a gamer’s platfrom of choice.