Using an iPad for the first time has given me needed insight

Call me oldschool or just resistant to change, but I have never been one to adopt certain technology right away.  When the smartphone craze started I was nowhere near.  I used the same basic phone that Verizon gave me and would have been content doing so except for the fact that after the phone became nearly six years old, Verizon was practically begging me to upgrade… so I got the newer version of the same thing.  Graev owns a Droid, iPad, and lots of these newer gadgets … and it seems like everyone else does too… but I could just never justify the price to use ratio.  However, when someone gives you an iPad for free you don’t turn it down.

Last week was my first hands-on experience with a product like the iPad.  I wasn’t ready for how slick and easy to use the thing would be or how much use I find myself imagining  for it.  This semester I will be on campus for a couple hours between classes which means I’m going to be bored out of my mind.  The internet functionality on the iPad and its apps have already alleviated any concerns I might have about that time being wasted.

I downloaded several apps from the app store like Netflix, one of those ibook reader things, and several games.  Netflix works way better on the iPad than it does on my laptop for some reason and the touch features make the games way easier to play.   Since this is a gaming blog, I’m sure you’re less interested in my discovery of something that is now considered old news by many and more interested in my thoughts on its games and potential.

If you know me, you know that I hate the idea of mobile gaming.  For some reason I always associate it with stuff like farmville and those little wannabe games you find on social networking sites.  While those exist on the iPad to a startling degree, there’s much more to be had.  Graev informed me about a big sale from EA where many of their games are only $0.99 marked down from something like $10.00.  I picked up Command and Conquer, Sim City, Scrabble, and a few other games not by EA like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.  I think I may have spent a grand total of $10.  The games are actually pretty awesome and I think if people get a little more creative we can see much more mainstream gaming come to these pads and mobile devices.

What really pushed me into blogging about this was the tech demo that I tried from Epic called ‘Epic Citadel’.  You’ve seen videos of it from conventions, but you really can’t appreciate it fully until you experience it.  This is where the real gaming potential comes in for these devices.  The fully realized virtual world akin to something like Oblivion (but better looking) and the idea of playing a RPG or MMORPG makes me believe in a future of mobile gaming much more easily than just seeing Angry Birds in action.  Don’t get me wrong, Angry Birds is fun but to me you’re not a ‘Gamer’ if you play with apps, regardless of  how quickly publishers want to classify you as one.  Core gamers are what matter to me and maybe one day we’ll get to see a game made for mobile devices.

My concerns right now are centered around input for the games.  The touch controls for the tech demo featured a point and click (touch and go?) and who joysticks like you would find on a Xbox controller by placing your thumbs on the bottom left and right sides. These worked pretty well but felt a little loose.  I had some issues keeping my thumbs in the right area too.  If we’re ever going to see serious gaming on these things then the controls will have to be improved somehow.  It might be as simple as refining the on-screen touch pads.

Despite the absence of any real games (less a tech demo), they’ve made a believer out of me; even if only in my own ideal wishing way.  If you asked me two weeks ago I would have smirked and said there’s no way but now I can see it happening.

  • That’s amazing (had no idea it was that advanced) but the issue I have with app games is why not just play on your desktop? If I were traveling maybe but I prefer a good book 🙂 I guess I just can’t see myself hard core gaming on anything but my PC, then again, who knows!

  • I’ve had an iPod touch for nearly a year now and I will probably get a tablet PC next year some time. Yes, the potential is huge.

    Despite that, as Russell says, if I find myself with an hour or two to spare, I’d still rather read a book. Or watch a film or a t.v. show, which I do use the iPod for. Or just sit and think and watch what’s going on.

    But then, I’m no gamer. If it’s not an MMO I really have no interest. When there are MMOs on the iPad that can go toe-to-toe with the ones I play on the PC, then I’ll be interested.

  • Pocket Legends may count as a real game. It’s an attempt at a multi-player mmo-lite game for the platform.

  • Try Dungeon Hunter 2. It’s basically a Diablo type game with multiplayer support. Great gaming fun and worth the $6

  • I am always wondering how the hell the Ipad gets those kind of graphics. The thing is not that powerful to begin with from what I have heard.

  • personally i like my silly apps played in short bursts (which i think they’re made for) when i’m away from my PC