Wednesday, May 30, 2012

an innovative use of the word "traditional"

These are some thoughts and speculation that I have about the "console gaming" "space". Tim Cook referred to this recently as "traditional gaming", which struck me as a rather innovative use of the term "traditional gaming", because I had associated that with things like board games, card games, and running around outside, not sitting in front of the TV with a gamepad making imaginary people made out of colored blocks jump over things. One of the hot questions these days seems to be "what if Apple were to make a games console? wouldn't that be awesome?"

I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that what Mr. Cook meant by his statement, and his follow-on answer about TV games in general "that could be interesting" to mean that Apple has no plans to make a games console, but might have plans having to do with video games played on big screen TVs. There's a bit of rumor flying around about Apple developing a smart TV, or "iTV", if you will. If this turns out to be reality, there's going to have to be some way of controlling it. There are several possibilities for this, some of which I'll enumerate as follows in an attempt to appear intelligent:

 - classic Apple Remote - as used on current Apple TV - media-centric, conveniently not obnoxiously large, but more easily losable in beween couch cushions. Built in magnet makes it a little easier to stow, however.

 - iPod Touch / iPhone remote control app - this seems pretty obvious. I haven't checked myself, but this may already be implemented on Apple TV. If the TV device can work as a wireless hub, not only can they eliminate the need for another box in the house (the router in addition to the cable box), but now it has integrated support for using everyone's iDevices not only as remote controls, but as virtual gamepads (assuming API hooks are implemented - can't see why they wouldn't do this).

The latter also opens up the possibility of having games implemented for said supposed TV device to interact with companion "controller" apps written for iPod Touch / iPhone / iPad, effectively enabling it to compete with Nintendo's upcoming Wii U. The Wii U would still have the advantage of actual tactile buttons. These are a bit more important for games played on a TV and controlled by an external device, i.e. gamepad, because the player is not looking at where their fingers are touching. They're effectively playing blind and must rely on tactile sensation in order to effectively navigate the controller.

On a touchscreen device, this actually isn't quite as important, except in cases where input latency is critical. Again, this is all just my own speculation. I have no knowledge of what Apple's actual plans are, and am not intending this as suggestions to them. I'm sure they know quite well what they intend to do in this area of the market and will let the rest of us know in due course. I will now return to my regularly scheduled programming. (perl!)

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