Apple's next big thing ships next month, and soon wrists all around the globe will be thrumming with iTechnology. What can a wrist-based device with a tiny screen bring to gaming? Quite a lot, probably.
I've been considering whether or not to invest the $US350 necessary to add Apple to my arm since the Apple Watch was first announced last year. Right now I'm at the point where had Tim Cook announced they were on sale today I would have found the cash. Why? Partly for fitness, partly for being able to leave my iPhone charging somewhere else in my house and still get important texts and emails, and largely due to the possible gaming applications I've been thinking about in the days leading up to today's Apple event.
That's right, I'm planning on spending upwards of $US400 based on my imagination. It hasn't steered me wrong yet, except for all of those times it did.
Let's start off with the obvious.
Until you've embraced the sort of mobile game that relies heavily on knowing who is doing what to you when, notifications aren't much more than annoyances that pop up from time to time when you accidentally hit "Yes" instead of "God no." But when you've been building up your base for weeks and are certain it's completely impervious to attack and suddenly some 12-year-old rolls in and steals all of your things, waiting until you pull your phone out of your pocket to call him a little shitbird is mighty inconvenient.
With the Apple Watch, shitbirding can be convenient and nearly instantaneous. Plus you'll be looking at your watch, and people will be too busy trying to steal it to worry about your use of foul language.
Notifications can be quite handy for gaming in the right situation. With the Apple Watch they can be wristy as well.
Audio From Your Arm
Years from now we'll look back and realise the Wii U's crowning achievement was how pleasing it was to augment full stereo sound with tinny noise from the tiny control pad speaker. It's ridiculous how much depth that stupid little thing adds to game audio. Now imagine you had a stupid little thing on your wrist.
But it's not that stupid. You're playing a game where you're some sort of lizard-based military operative. Your comm buzzes. Bring your wrist to your face and say something cool like "Go" or something even cooler like "Go, arsehole." Oh look, there on the screen! It's some generic name for Otacon so I can keep this thinly-veiled Metal Gear Solid reference going.
Maybe not-Otacon asks you questions. The Apple Watch has a microphone as well, so you can answer and let voice recognition determine whether you live or die.
Using magical magnetic technology, the Apple Watch can send tactile feedback through the watch to your wrist. Say you get a text message from your significant other. It will pop up on your watch, and it will give you a little love tap.
Immediately an application comes to mind — underwear with an Apple Watch pouch.
Once that notion fades (it can take a while), another replaces it — what if when you got shot in an iOS game on your phone or tablet, you died in real life? Or maybe just felt a tapping on your wrist. Probably the latter.
All silliness aside (most silliness, at least), having a haptic feedback-enabled device strapped to your body that can connect to your mobile gaming platform of choice (as long as that choice is Apple) opens up a wealth of gaming possibilities. Getting shot in shooters. Jump scares in horror games. Wrist crushes in Wrist Crush Saga.
I lost you all at Apple Watch underwear, didn't I?
Cloak And Dagger
Since the heyday of Dabney Coleman, people have been obsessed with the idea of running through public places pretending to kill each other. Every year a developer comes out with some cool new mobile game that involves taking over territory or tracking people using GPS and then subduing them using some form of mobile phone trickery. In fact, I dread the emails from these developers that will flood my inbox following the publishing of this article, as I do not like going outside.
If I did, I imagine the Apple Watch would be the perfect complement to my virtual arsenal. I come into close proximity of another player, and a radar screen pops up, slowly guiding me towards the enemy. Perhaps some developer could even employ Apple's creepy heartbeat sharing technology here.
I'll be frank here — I've always wanted a watch with a radar display on it. I really don't care who or what it tracks. It could be the location of the nearest Denny's or the results of a worldwide "What's your favourite direction" poll. I just want to look at my watch and walk forward deliberately. I suppose I could do that without spending $US400, but would I feel as fulfilled?
Probably. Moving on.
Fitness Games, I Guess
Apple is really pushing the fitness features of the Apple Watch, and I am not averse to letting fancy new technology spatula me out of my office chair and out into the open air. I've played some pretty amazing audio-adventure running games on my phone, largely zombie-based, and I imagine the Apple Phone could enhance my terrorised lumbering exponentially.
Take all of the technology we've spoken about except for notifications, because screw those, and you've got the makings of a pretty amazing fitness survival horror game. Haptic feedback simulates undead fingers trying to steal your watch. Audio cues hint at shambling hordes gaining on you. An arbitrary radar display fills with points of light, hot on your trail. The microphone listens to your gasping breaths and laughs.
On top of all of that, the Apple Watch can monitor your vitals, so when you're about to die because you haven't technically exercised intensely this decade, it can try to tell you to stop. You won't hear it for the blood pounding in your ears, but the coroner will find it hilarious.
The Apple Gaming Watch
OK, maybe I wouldn't go that far, but there really are some interesting gaming applications for the Apple Watch, giving it enough gaming potential for me to justify it with my wife. If all else fails I just tell her I am getting it for exercise. When she falls over laughing I'll grab her wallet.