29
Jan

The Apple iPad’s place in gaming

   Posted by: Avaril   in Advice & Tools, RPG, Tech

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of days, you probably heard that Apple is going to release a new tablet computer, called the iPad.  So, I began to think what advantages it may have over any given netbook or laptop.  Now, I don’t want to turn this into a melee over if it’s “better” or “worse” than a netbook; you could find that discussion already on a number of other websites.  What I want to explore is what advantages it may have for the gaming table.

Computing at the gaming table is nothing new, due to the prevalence of laptops and smartphones.  However, the first is obtrusive and obstructive, and the second is often too small to read.

So, that leaves an opening for the iPad.  It seems that it would be large enough to be readable, without standing between the players like a laptop does.  The first obvious solutions are digital versions of game books, and dice rolling apps.  But, I think there’s more options here.

With the size of screen on the iPad, and the coming herd of iPad-specific apps, I think there are other options as well.  There could very easily be a tool with everything needed by a DM — initiative tracker, dice roller, reference books, etc.  There could even be a game board app for very close quarters combat.  Zoomable maps are another possibility, since we consistently reference maps of our game world as we play.  If tablet computers became common enough, everyone could have quick access to their rulebooks in the same app that contains their character sheet.  This would greatly clean up the gaming table.

While it may replace books and character sheets, I think that people still prefer the physicality of dice and miniatures, so it can’t replace everything.  But, I do definitely see the advantanges.

What do you think?  Will tablet computers help or hinder the gaming process?  What features would the ultimate gaming app include?  Tell us in the comments!

This entry was posted on Friday, January 29th, 2010 at 10:27 am and is filed under Advice & Tools, RPG, Tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

12 comments so far

Mark Hart
 1 

As soon as I saw the iPad demo, I knew I wanted to get one for running my 4e DnD games. It would be a great tool for showing pictures or maps, playing music and sound effects, and accessing the DDI Compendium online at the table when necessary. For me, a laptop or netbook is too bulky and obtrusive to have at my DM table; I think the iPad is the perfect size and weight. I think your ideas about game-related iPad apps are all good ones.

January 29th, 2010 at 10:45 am
Snarls-at-Fleas
 2 

There is nothing new or best in the iPad. There are better slates and tablets on the market. It has no multitasking, no flash support and costs 499 for 16 Gb? Please…
But the whole udea of slates at the table is very appealing.

January 29th, 2010 at 11:50 am
Anarkeith
 3 

I’ve used tiddlywiki for gamenotes and I’ve run a session using my iPhone. Aside from battery life (and the slow wake response) it was fine. If the iPad’s specs are accurate, I think it’d be perfect for GMing.

January 29th, 2010 at 11:57 am
 4 

The first thing I thought of when I saw the iPad was how it could be used. I’ve got a PDF reader on my iPod Touch, and use it to read and reference DMG and PHBs, but it’s too small, and I can’t easily switch pages, etc. It’s more useful for reading page by page while in line, or waiting at the dentist’s office.
I think the iPad will improve on this, giving you the ability to really use it to its full game potential. I think Wizards would be failing themselves if they didn’t come out with a DnD Character & Encounter creator for the iPad, as well as a mapping tool.
I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with.

January 29th, 2010 at 12:05 pm
Avaril
 5 

@Snarls-at-Fleas :
I don’t want to turn this into a discussion of the merits of the iPad, or what it does or doesn’t support. No matter if there are other tablets out there, the iPad is most likely to be the tablet computer that puts them all in the mainstream. I want this to be a discussion of how your preferred tablet of choice can aid a gaming session.

January 29th, 2010 at 12:06 pm
Wolfgod
 6 

his sounds like the beginning of what we’ve been waiting for.

Perhaps not the iPad itself, but this kind of technology - I’d love to have a 6×8 touchpad table.

Perhaps once iPads can be set next to each other and share graphics - like a huge mosiac tile - you could literally use them as a gaming table surface. (but don’t use mine as a coaster please).

Being able to reference all the docs and sheets on the iPad would rule … though you can’t sketch on it. :)

Yet.

Also, having a GM app to track things like intiative would be awesome. For that matter, at some point (when these are cheap and universal enough) there’s not reason everyone’s ‘character sheet’ couldn’t be networked, so the GM can see a running total of your HP, monster HP, AC’s, bonuses, spells, etc …

Now if only we could get a big one to use as a map …

January 29th, 2010 at 12:29 pm
Avaril
 7 

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@Wolfgod-
Who says you can’t sketch on it? I sketch on my iPhone all the time:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sketchbook-mobilex/id327376639?mt=8
and
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/brushes/id288230264?mt=8

January 29th, 2010 at 12:34 pm
 8 

I’m really interested in this topic. While there are other notepads, etc., Apple brings the software that makes it intuitive and the development environment to make it easy to create apps for.

The main problem I see is content. If I wanted to run a 4e game with a tablet, I’d have to create everything myself, unless Wizards themselves devote the resources to create an awesome app themselves.

As an iPhone/iPad developer, I’d love to create a great DM’s app. But figuring out a way to do that without stepping on IP makes for a difficult design process (and ultimately, makes your app less useful). I really don’t see a way around it, short of devoting an app to a more open game system and then trying to promote that (which will drastically reduce your target audience).

January 29th, 2010 at 12:39 pm
 9 

@CC: Given the huge number of iPhones out there, and good tools (like the character viewer from iplay4e.com), i’d hope that WotC would see the potential in supporting that market.

I believe that the iPhone is not about the hardware, but rather it is a platform for app sales. I suspect the iPad was intended to extend that philosophy. As more apps that are iPad specific appear, it should grow like the iPhone did. Of course it doesn’t have the added boost of being a phone (something nearly everyone needs), but if it takes off, I’d love to see developers such as yourself creating D&D apps with WotC’s blessing.

January 29th, 2010 at 12:51 pm
Wolfgod
 10 

Actually, an App that could talk between iPads, Touches, and iPhones (sharing say, D&D game information) could be awesome - either working over Bluetooth, Wireless network, or the ‘net …

Hmm.

Point taken about the IP problems, though. WotC rightly wouldn’t want to open up their content to just everybody. Perhaps some kind of deal could be reached with Paizo … :-D

February 2nd, 2010 at 2:36 pm
Avaril
 11 

I’m wondering if a gaming app could just have the ability to “store” PDF’s in it. If the system is game-agnostic (or simply d20 system), then there’s many non-commercial games that just come as a PDF. I don’t think that could be seen as encouraging piracy.

February 2nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm
 12 

Wolfgod said:

“Actually, an App that could talk between iPads, Touches, and iPhones (sharing say, D&D game information) could be awesome – either working over Bluetooth, Wireless network, or the ‘net ”

You should really check out iplay4e.com (that’s my site, for full disclosure). We’re a stone’s throw from having wave-style instant updates distributed to all the members of a party.

February 4th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

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