Posts Tagged ‘ipad’

Ancient Tablet Image

Apple Announces New Tablet Designed to Improve Paperweight Functionality (Image by Ilovebutter, CC license)

It has become increasingly obvious over the last couple of years that some gamers are convinced that after Obama satisfies his deep-seated yearning to take away our guns he is going to send in the UN black helicopters and take away our hardcore videogames.  In the past I’ve written about how the irrational fear that casual games are “taking over” has produced pathological troglodyte behavior directed against women who have dared simply to voice an opinion about games.  Recently I came across an instance that has at its root the same pathology (oh no!  Games are being played by everyone!) but adopted a refreshingly different approach: denial.

Throw an Apple hard enough and it can really sting
In a recent opinion piece for Polygon, Shawn Foust, currently VP of Design at Quark Games argued that “In two years mobile and tablet games will be predominantly hardcore.”  Admittedly this pronouncement could be seen as a little self-serving given that Foust’s company is dedicated to producing hardcore games for mobile platforms.  But let’s give Foust the benefit of the doubt and assume that his work has followed his passions and beliefs.  What justifies the confidence behind his statement?  Simple.  “Every media platform optimized for games eventually ends up going hardcore. Mobile will not be different.”  The PC, the Internet, consoles, all started out as oriented toward casual games and moved inevitably toward hardcore.  The reason, he argues, lies in the desires of gamers themselves: “For all of our faults as customers (we’re very torch- and pitchfork-oriented), we gamers — and I’m speaking of the hardcore variety — are loyal and dedicated. . . .For us, games aren’t an idle pastime. They are a commitment. We can’t be distracted.”  Casual games, he makes clear, are all about simple distraction, passing the time.

Sadly, this piece simply confirms why people should not be in a rush to invest in Foust’s company.  In the first place he’s exhibiting the classic circular reasoning evident among so many game developers.  Notice the nifty little rhetorical sidestep?  I’m going to talk about all gamers. . .by which I mean hardcore gamers.  But this is typical of the industry more broadly (indeed, in a former age it virtually defined the industry): all we make are hardcore games which people are buying therefore all gamers are hardcore gamers which means that we need to keep making nothing but hardcore games.  It is a completely fallacious argument to believe that your intended audience thinks exactly like you do and in the game industry it has led to some of the most problematic industry practices: the widespread hypersexualism (we like big boobs so of course everyone does) and racism (we like plucky black sidekicks, doesn’t everyone?).

Yet that all pales before the major problem here which is simply that Foust is wrong.  He’s wrong about the past and he’s wrong about the future.  But it is the reason why he is wrong that interests me.

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Guild Wars 2

Image via Wikipedia

When the iPad was announced earlier this year I wrote a blog entry that was generally sceptical of the device’s overall potential to revolutionize anything; nevertheless, I was still interested in its possibilities as a gaming platform.  At the time, I wrote this:

Apple will in all likelihood need some breakthrough application that really takes advantage of the size and scale of the device (since no significant new functionality was demonstrated) to allow people to do something that they couldn’t do before.  Alternatively, it will need to allow people to do something they could do before but much more efficiently.  Note:  much more efficiently.  I have a hard time seeing how anyone will part with the amount of money needed to get the version with reasonable storage and connectivity if it only does some things a little better than is possible at the moment.

This breakout app that helps to redefine the iPad hasn’t happened yet as far as I’m aware.  No one who has showed me their iPad has yet done the “but what you really need to see is this” move that made me jealous of any number of people with iPods and then iPhones.  Of course, I did underestimate basic human nature.  In fact, lots of people will part with a lot of money to get something that only does things a little better than other devices (and in some cases a lot worse: seriously, have you used the “keyboard” on this thing?  Better yet, watch a proud iPad owner using it: they grin with that kind of “No, this may look painful but I’m really having a lot of fun” look that is vaguely reminiscent of the way elephants look when trying to have sex). . .simply so they can have what most other people don’t have. . .yet.  There is a word for these people.  Posers.

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The iPad as Gaming Device?

Posted: January 28, 2010 by Twitchdoctor in game design, Game Platforms
Tags: , , , ,

And lo, The Steve descended the mountain with the Word of the Lord still heavy upon him.  Thus he spread his hands and calmed the roiling waters of commerce, and spaketh in tones of majesty to the huddled masses yearning to be freed from the burden of their cash.  “Behold, ” intoned The Steve, “I bring you revolutionary magic, a magic revolution, more magic, more revolution.  And I say unto you, in three score days thou will find within the holy temple of the golden apple a device that is like an iPhone only bigger and phoneless, and which resembleth the Book of Mac but smaller and less powerful, and which shall combat the wiles of the evil Kindleites by charging the people more to read.  Thy pockets will be barren even as the Ark of the Apple Covenant is filled unto bursting with the Wealth of Nations.  And the world shall be unchanged.”  So sayeth The Steve.  And the masses fell to warring among themselves.

OK, leaving aside the fact that I still can’t say the word “iPad” with a straight face (what the hell was The Steve thinking?), the product’s release schedule colors Apple’s generally high level of marketing savvy with just a hint of desperation.  In releasing the SDK yesterday but not making the device itself available for 60 days (and then only making the crappiest version available) Apple is tacitly acknowledging that while The Steve may be convinced that this device is “magical” and “revolutionary” at the moment it appears to be anything but.  Wishing will not make it so, but the work of some canny app developers just might.

Most of the touted uses of the iPad are already served adequately by existing software applications (and on other devices).  Apple will in all likelihood need some breakthrough application that really takes advantage of the size and scale of the device (since no significant new functionality was demonstrated) to allow people to do something that they couldn’t do before.  Alternatively, it will need to allow people to do something they could do before but much more efficiently.  Note:  much more efficiently.  I have a hard time seeing how anyone will part with the amount of money needed to get the version with reasonable storage and connectivity if it only does some things a little better than is possible at the moment.

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