How Apple’s Tablet Will Be Great For Gaming



Earlier this week we took a look at how Apple’s upcoming tablet will be a paradigm shift by introducing a different kind of computing. Here in more detail is how Apple’s tablet will be great for gaming.

Playing games on the tablet will be like playing games on the iPhone — a ton of fun — except the tablet will be bigger and better.  Games will look great on a high-resolution tablet, and have an incredibly fun and intuitive control system — your fingers, plus tilt controls. The tablet will solve one of the biggest problems of finger controls on the iPhone/touch: the screen is too small.

Jon Doe, the anonymous grad student who’s done a lot of thinking about the Apple tablet, says gaming will be the killer app for the tablet. Like VisiCalc on the Apple II, games will be the software that makes the device a must-have. “Gaming on a larger more full featured multitouch device would change the face of gaming,” he says.

Doe has made a video showing what it might be like to play World of Warcraft on a tablet. It looks natural, intuitive and fun.

In this video, Doe imagines what it’d be like to play the super-popular World of Warcraft RPG with your fingers. It’s dead simple: point on the screen where you want the character to go, and tap on objects you want the character to interact with. The controls are like the standard controls that use a mouse or keyboard, but much more direct and hands on.

On his blog, Doe details several potential finger gestures for controlling games:

Running or walking: To walk you tap your fingers on the screen and push just a little bit up. To run push further up.
Aiming: Use a 1 finger tap and drag gesture to aim your gun.
Firing: With the finger you’re using to aim with, tap with another finger (thumb is best) to fire the gun.
Throwing: There will be a grenade icon on your screen. Tap on that icon and flick. The grenade will go flying. The harder you flick the farther it goes. If you want to you can lightly flick to quietly roll it into the next room.
Jumping: While standing still or running quickly release and tap with the fingers you’re using to move your character and he will jump.
Zooming with Sniper: You could use a two finger pinch and spread gesture to zoom, or you could use a two finger rotate gesture. I like the rotate gestures because it simulates actually turning the lenses of a scope.

And so on. More here. Of course, controls like these are already implemented in games for the iPhone/touch, which Doe recognizes. But these devices are almost too small for multitouch controls: your fingers cover half the screen.

Doe argues that a large tablet that recognizes a wide range of gesture controls will enable new kinds of game play. As he explained in an email:

I find that games on the iPod Touch/ iPhone are more fun the further their controls break from traditional handheld UIs — Cube Runner, Flight Control, Pocket God, Rolando, Must.Eat.Birds, etc.

The iPod Touch has changed the face of handheld gaming. It has introduced a level of navigation and control with its accelerometers that has not been thought of before. It has also introduced the concept of adaptive UI with the touchscreen (even though the iPod Touch has very limited multitouch gestures). Gaming on a larger, more full featured multitouch device would also change the face of gaming. Gaming would be much more fluid on a larger multotouch device.

I think the type of games that would benefit the most are MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. MMORPGs usually have a GUI design that would work quite well with a multitouch interface and not need any deep changes.

First Person Shooters are harder to envision, but they would gain many benefits… Imagine a Star Wars game where you direct the light-saber by swiping a finger over the bad guy. You want to stab? Then tap on the part of the body you want to stab at. You want to cut a limb off? Then swipe you finger over that limb. You want to parry an attack? Then swipe your finger toward their weapon.

The idea is that you are free from button pushing.

I think he’s right. A larger tablet with a 10- or 13-inch screen is the natural form factor for multitouch games, and could change the nature of gaming.