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iPod Gaming

A Better Interface and a Few Good Games for iPod Gaming

An iPod is a device with which almost everyone is familiar. Thanks to word of mouth, envy, and Apple’s savvy marketing, the iPod has become synonymous with portable music. Several models are available, ranging from screenless (and exceedingly small) Shuffles to the larger flash-based Nano (which has a screen but is still small) and the granddaddy, the hard drive-based iPod Video. The iPod Video can play music, photos, movies, and even games, with the click wheel controlling everything. But let’s be fully honest. Using the click wheel interface is a pain, except for a few games.

I believe it’s evident that Apple has been watching the handheld gaming market closely recently and has taken moves to make the iPod more game-friendly. To make the iPod a viable gaming platform, Apple, in my opinion, needs to go a step further. Right now, the interface and the small software library are the two biggest hurdles.

The software is easy to operate. Many indie game developers are constantly working on projects, and apple employed some programmers to work on the iPod’s software. Several developers are continuously developing software for iPod Linux. If you install Linux on an iPod, you can play a Doom port right now. Before Apple introduced the iPod Video and its accompanying games, this was a possibility.

The hardware is also straightforward. Apple made a gamepad that slides on and connects to the iPod’s dock port. A D-Pad is on the left, four buttons are on the right, and some shoulder buttons, maybe. USB pads are quite inexpensive, with various models costing less than $15. It’s a simple assignment, and I’m confident Apple’s top designers will be able to do it.

Getting back to the games

The iPod’s processor is competent, but it isn’t a powerhouse. Expecting it to play games at the same level as the PSP or DS is ludicrous. However, this isn’t a huge problem. On your iPod, put some good Game Boy or Gameboy Advance games. Who wouldn’t pay $5 for a Street Fighter game on their iPod? The best aspect is that Apple already has a significant presence in the portable music market. Adding gaming capabilities isn’t prohibitively expensive, and even if the gaming market fails to take off, Apple can always count on revenue from the iPod audience. After all, they’re the ones that buy iPods in the first place. Why not create a $15 or $20 dock gamepad for the iPod Video and sell it alongside some decent, low-cost games on the iTunes music store?

The regulation, however, still affects thousands of jobs, as the Greek Internet Cafe Union pointed out. Some have compared the video game ban to China’s censorship of political websites, except more ludicrous. Furthermore, the Greek video game prohibition resulted in the arrest of a few people and the imposition of severe fines.

Initially, some officials questioned whether the Greek video game ban was legal under European law. Though the video game ban in Greece did not technically violate any specific European Court of Justice law, the Court did send a letter of response to the Greek government, explaining that the video game ban had sparked a lot of debate and that the Court, while not prohibiting the law, had disproved it. Greece preserved its video game ban to maintain face and the capacity to arrest anyone engaging in illicit video game gambling readily. However, the country was extremely liberal on the issue. Essentially, the prohibition is disregarded unless someone in Greece becomes enraged by video games or begins to bet in public.