It's been nearly a whole week since I bought an iPad, and I had been expecting gaming on the large-screened tablet to be one of the primary uses I'd engage in. In fact, I'd say it ranks a distant fourth behind e-reading, video viewing, and Web browsing.
Why is this, exactly? It's not like I dislike gaming. In fact, several developers have sent me games to look at, and so far, few have stuck. I attribute the relatively game-free life I've lived with the iPad to two factors: it's not a great handheld system for gaming, and developers are still treating it like a giant iPhone.
To address the first: to me, games on the iPad work best when the device sits in your lap, allowing you to freely touch the screen anywhere. Board games, strategy games, and a few arcade-style titles fit the mold. There are iPad games I'd been hoping to see, and some of those have already come to pass. I'm still waiting on others. The iPad can be held in your hands, but the weight of it makes it hard to hold upright for periods of time. When I say the iPad isn't a great handheld for gaming, this is what I mean. My iPhone can be used for one-handed subway gaming (Drop7, Bejeweled Blitz) or for PSP-style action games via its virtual control pad.
The virtual control pad scheme on the iPad is a harder sell. Gameloft's NOVA, while an impressive FPS, takes some awkward controls in its larger size, and required me to be sitting with the iPad in my lap to really be used the best. Real Soccer controls as easily as its iPhone sibling, but doesn't seem to offer any gameplay or graphic advantages despite its larger size. Meanwhile, a game like Mirror's Edge works better because its swipe-to-run controls can be used in a more casual way when lap-gaming, and in fact won't work great when "hand-held." Of course, Scrabble is fun, but EA's version of the board game doesn't use the iPad real estate in any new or surprising way.
When I'm commuting, I'm not likely to find the physical space or the proper position (i.e., I'm standing) to game on the iPad. At home I might play games, but then again, I also have my consoles.
Labyrinth 2 works great, using the iPad's surface like a giant tilting table. Plants vs Zombies is also perfect, although it doesn't really need the extra real estate on the iPad to play. Despite the big push for iPad driving/flying games, we found Top Gun HD hard to control via a larger device. On the iPhone, it was a much easier fit.
The small-scale strategy game Strategery a tap-to-play casual board game, seems to suit the iPad better with its larger maps and its table-top feel.… Read more