Tablet gaming – a hard pill to swallow?

By on January 17, 2012

T-t-t-t-touch me!

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First Impressions
My reaction is

I’ve surfed the tidal wave of tablets for a while now, and no I’m not talking about prescription medication. Every major manufacturer has at some point decided to churn out a tablet boasting some swanky new feature or the other.

But why am I moaning about tablets on a gaming site? Well, it’s because I still can’t quite wrap my head around playing games on a tablet. Sure, there are games specifically designed for tablets such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja, which are a lot of fun to play and feel quite intuitive. But it seems that both game developers and tablet manufacturers are touting tablets as the next move forward in gaming.

Let’s look at the one issue I have with trying to play traditional console games on a tablet – the controls. While racing games might be easier to control on a tablet via tilt mechanisms, FPS games or combat games would be a real challenge to play due to the complete omission of actual buttons. I’ve tried playing simple FPS games on the iPad and have found it really cumbersome to play through the game with the on-screen joystick and buttons. Often my thumb would wander from the location of the joystick, so I would be frantically circling around with my thumb only to discover I was nowhere near where I needed to be tapping (don’t even get me started on those little joysticks that you can buy to stick onto your tablet surface.) The other problem is that unless your tablet is on a flat surface or the game is designed a specific way, you’re only able to play the games using your thumbs. Games that traditionally utilize shoulder buttons to aim or shoot for example often have much simpler controls which I feel takes most of the skill out of playing the game. It’s also slightly uncomfortable to hold a tablet when gaming for extended periods of time, as it really puts pressure on the area between your thumb and index finger to grasp the device.

All of this however might just change – recently Razer announced “Project Fiona” which is their entry into the gaming tablet market. The difference is that this tablet actually does have physical analogue sticks and buttons to play your games with, and will supposedly play most PC games right out of the box. This is a rather interesting move forward for a company that excels at providing gaming hardware such as keyboards, headsets, and mice. But the debate continues as to whether or not you could actually enjoy gaming with such a device – the additional controls would add to the size of the device (unless they were detachable). There’s also the point of how amusing you would look to onlookers with this space-age tablet in front of you as you tried to stealth around in Assassin’s Creed. But hey, there are plenty of people who are tilting and swing their tablets around anyway, so that’s going to be the least of your worries.

While it’s clear that tablet gaming is here to stay, I still feel there’s a while to go before we can see a tablet that not only wows us with its performance, but also provides better control options. Until then, it’s back to wasting precious hours catapulting our avian friends.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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  • knomad

    I use a ps3 controller and play PS1 games among other emulated console games on my tablet, and living happily. you’re noobs.

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