How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

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.

How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

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.

How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

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.


Haptic Feedback

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.

How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

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

How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

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.

How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

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.

How The Apple Watch Could Make Mobile Games Better-ish

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.


    You want me to play games on a watch that has an 18 hour battery life under 'normal' conditions? Nope.

    Last edited 10/03/15 10:12 am

      Nevermind the end cost: iphone + watch for possibly slight enhancements?
      And tbh, haptic feedback on one wrist isnt exactly groundbreaking

    Wiimotes will change the face of gaming! (Possibly the *only* one here that's had a true impact...)
    Kinect will change the face of gaming!
    PS Move will change the face of gaming!
    Occulus rift will change the face of gaming!
    Apple watch will change the face of gaming!

    While I know that's not exactly what Kotaku's saying, I've already seen a few people spouting this rhetoric this morning about the apple watch. I fail to see how. If those devices prior didn't, how the hell will a watch?

      The watch seems even less likely than the others to be meaningful. The screen is too small to be useful as a standalone device, and as a companion to a mobile...when you hold your mobile, whether one- or two-handed, which way are your wrists facing? So you have to turn the watch face inwards on your wrist, okay. Then how are you going to interact with it? Both your hands are on the phone, or your dominant hand is on the phone and the watch is on your other wrist.

      And if the thing is only going to display (a tiny amount of) information, why have a separate screen for it? Just put it on the phone where the player is looking most of the time anyway.

      I don't know, maybe I'm just not being imaginative enough, but I just can't see how this would be useful at all.

        All of your points are valid. At this stage, Apple is trying to create the market for this watch with hype alone. I'm thinking there will be a huge burst of sales day 1 (as per any Apple product) which will then drop off a cliff due to people like you and me scratching our heads and wondering why the hell we need a product like this.

      You're telling me your face didn't crumple up a little at the notion?

      At least the occulus rift puts something ON your face...

        If they'd ever launch the damn thing commercially they'd probably have more of an impact...

    Thx for the article Mike, I found it highly entertaining and the humour makes me believe we come from the same planet.

    As an old gamer who's hobby is buying lots of games and mostly never playing them (it's an investment and important to keep them as new, esp. the downloaded ones), I also must buy each and every Apple, Sony and Nintendo electric toy. When I trade in my old iPads or 3DS for the new they often are indistinguishable in terms of condition, but have them I must, to stroke and gaze lovingly upon. Tis my sole hobby (if you discount obsessively collecting TBs of digital books and comics from various sites of questionable legality).

    So yes no doubt I am destined to own an Apple watch although remembering the brick that was the first iPad, I may wait for a, hopefully cheaper and better, Apple Watch Air Deluxe 2. I am particularly interested in putting it on to get fitter whilst browsing the Intarwebs from the comfort of my reclining lounge chair.


    I don't mind spending a bit of coin on tech and I am a big fan of the iPhone but the prices are just ridiculous for what it offers.
    None of these justify the cost.

      Agreed. Until they get some sort of holographic interface which projects a screen as large as a phone, not interested.

    The only thing that the Apple Watch has over other smart watches in this article is your imagined radar game. I've been using a Pebble for the past 3 months and does all this stuff already. I look at my watch for calls, texts, emails and the weather. Other than that the Apple Watch is just the name. Which if you want to pay for go ahead otherwise any other smart watch does all these things except what you imagine might come in the future

    This is the perfect platform for games like cow clicker.

    The wiimote made far more impact with its inbuilt speaker than the gamepad ever could! The thwock in wii sports tennis added SO much to the experience.

    The phone calls in silent hill were also great.

      Red Steel multiplayer, Killer mode. Genius.

    So I imagined what kind of game a smartwatch could have, and I thought of a simple "Tag" game. When who's it tags you, your watch glows red and everyone else's glows green. Then it keeps a scoreboard.

      Basically JS Joust, the only good thing about a PS Move controller.

        Hey, that looks like an awesome game, thanks for bringing it up

    There's a joke in here about mobile porn, the I watch and a wristie but have quite got there yet.......

    I highly doubt a single wrist wearable (apple or not) will have any impact on gaming at all. Even after hearing these suggestions.
    Although I do like the "radar" idea, and could be cool for geocaching.

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