8 game genres that are perfect for iPad

It can read the New York Times and National Geographic! It has a compass, an accelerometer and a microphone! It displays photos of annoyingly happy children while simultaneously piping out annoyingly peppy jazz music! It’s 1.5 pounds, 9.7 inches and 1GHz!

Blah blah blah. This kind of stuff may impress Apple’s loyal followers and interest the mainstream media, but you’re a gamer – a real gamer – and that’s not what you want to know. Will the iPad work as a legitimate gaming platform, you ask? If so, what types of games will work best? What possibilities for gaming should we really be excited about?

These are your answers.


Dozens, if not hundreds, of tiny units at your command. Vast maps, every corner of which must be closely and constantly watched. Ridiculously dense menus, submenus and sub-submenus, holding a near-infinite variety of building, deploying and resource gathering options. Let’s be honest – RTS games are unwieldy. They’re overwhelming. Even on a PC, they require too much key-mapping and shortcut memorization.

But on an intuitive touchscreen device that enables you to point directly at the units you want? To literally draw boxes or rectangles around the groupings you need to select? To effortlessly swipe through menus, or across maps, like Tom Cruise in Minority Report? On a much larger and crisper screen than the iPhone, so that you can actually see every detail of the battle unfold? Real-time strategy could suddenly be the simplest, and most obvious, fit.


Forget controls. If you want to dive the plane, just dip the device. If you want to turn the racecar, just tilt. You don’t need an intricate series of buttons and triggers to represent the steering wheel or flight stick when the entire thing you’re holding in your hands can act as one.

Many developers have already realized this, which is why you’ll find a fantastic variety of racing and piloting games already available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Need for Speed is there. Tom Clancy’s HAWX is there. The only problem? They’re very small, and not very immersive. Blown up to the size and processing power of Apple’s iPad, however, they might work better than Sixaxis Warhawk ever did.


Holding the plastic instrument is a nice touch, but what really makes games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero so satisfying is the subconscious gratification of hitting the exact right cue at the exact right moment, over and over and over again. That rewarding feeling remains even when you remove the controller and ask players to merely touch the notes instead. Don’t believe us? Try any of the Tap Tap games already on iPhone / iPod Touch.

Apple’s new tablet, though, is capable of so much more. The extra screen size means more space for more virtual instruments. You could lay the device down on a table and have four players interact simultaneously, conducting an instant symphony or rock band on the spot. Looking for a solo performance? With its generous yet portable size and touch sensitivity, the iPad actually makes more sense as a DJ Hero turntable than the chunk of plastic that shipped in the box.


The iPhone and iPod Touch are designed to be held in your hand while used, making multiplayer on a single system rather difficult. Apple’s iPad, however, is so big that we can easily imagine it lying on a desk or table between players. With that setup, many more possibilities open up.

A chess board, for example. Checkers, Othello, Monopoly, Clue, Trivial Pursuit… practically any classic board game that doesn’t require the player to hide cards is doable. Hell, you could even play a miniature version of Twister, with people’s fingers stretching and bending around each other’s.

Want something more modern? Air hockey, foosball, ping pong and pool all sound feasible, too. BulletBall Extreme, anyone?




  • roy-walhof - April 30, 2014 6:36 a.m.

    I have published a new educational slide puzzel game for iPad called Scramble Fest that is available for free on the App Store. It features a total of 300 puzzels ranging in subjects from animals to people and architecture. Presented in an original manner this game includes a variety of stage designs that challenges the player to get ahead in the game. Why don’t you take a look at the iTunes page? There’s also a paid version that costs $0.99 and doesn’t include ads. To see more of the game be sure to check out the Facebook page which features a number of videos here: And the official website: Enjoy! Feel free to contact me at any time.
  • BeatDown - May 23, 2011 3:32 p.m.

    The iPad is really awesome for board games, flight/action and arcade games. And if you get the arcade type adapter you are in for a treat.
  • Ijemin32 - January 31, 2010 7:37 p.m.

    yooo DJ hero on the touch...lemme go youtube that real quick dudes tryna get a cheap copy of MW2
  • lovinmyps3 - January 30, 2010 1:32 a.m.

    Isn't this basically a bigger iPod touch? My touch can do almost everything this can.
  • El_Hombre11 - January 29, 2010 12:35 a.m.

    Starcraft in my backpack?! where can I pick one of these up? haha
  • FriendlyFire - January 28, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    Sorry, but I don't think sims or RTS would work. RTS games need you to be incredibly precise and fast. Your big, blunt finger will never be able to precisely pick the 15 units you want in the pack of 100 massed at your base. Try double-clicking (tapping) to select all units of one type if said unit happens to be an infantry. Oh, also, no keyboard shortcuts? How do you zoom? The multi-touch zoom thing would be horribly slow; think how it'd be in Supreme Commander. As CH3BURASHKA pointed out, this wouldn't work for racers or flight sims. Lair is a good example of a failed attempt, and at least you weren't flailing a 1.5lb mass around. That's forgetting the issue of not being able to react fast, the awkwardness of playing in an ever so cramped place, how hard very tight turns would become (either that or it'd be imprecise on slight turns) and the LCD viewing angle, amongst other things. For all other game types, I guess it COULD work. Depends on the implementation, but it still looks like a huge gimmick to me (like the iPhone, but at least that was a cellphone you could keep in your pocket).
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 28, 2010 1:23 p.m.

    AND GRIM FANDANGO, well ok I didn't buy it either but to be fair I was younger than 10 (can't be bothered to check release dates) and didn't even know it existed.
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 28, 2010 1:19 p.m.

    No, no, no, no, no, Flightsims, Point and Click adventures and RPG's should stick to other platforms, like the pc, and incidently, wtf? 800$'s for the full version, LOL, buy a laptop, you can get one that'll run anything outthere (well... except Synth... don't ask) for that price. Also, point and click adventures didn't die, they evolved, although they also carried on, there are loads around today (Wallace and Gromit, Tales of Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Time Gentlemen Please, Machinarium, just to name a few...). Plus if people were really that bothered then why did nobody buy The Longest Journey? No Answer? Then shhh, your fault, genre killers.
  • rxb - January 28, 2010 1:15 p.m.

    Racing games, no thanks. Could be good for MMOs too.
  • TheWebSwinger - January 28, 2010 7:52 a.m.

    This article was put out at incredible speed... as did your mother! :D
  • CH3BURASHKA - January 28, 2010 5:54 a.m.

    This should have been a '7 game genres' list. Honestly, air sims and similar games that rely on angle of the controller itself aren't awesome; the Sixaxis has confirmed that, I believe. Tilting a small iPhone is one thing; moving around a relative behemoth such as the iPad is considerably different. Also, it's dumb.
  • manaconda - January 28, 2010 5:51 a.m.

    gabriel knight is coming back in a big way cause of the ipad!
  • spongejerk89 - January 28, 2010 4:35 a.m.

    Needs World of Goo.
  • smallberry - January 28, 2010 3:02 a.m.

    I'd buy it for the gaming opportunities alone. Although its not really the kind of thing I could carry around in public. But if they announce some old school adventure games for it I'll buy it tomorrow.
  • slapdatass - January 28, 2010 2:28 a.m.

    So it'd be worth it solely for any pre-Psychonauts Tim Shafer game. Natch. However, you'd look a right tool holding it up in public and rotating it, trying to play a flying sim.
  • uupinko - January 28, 2010 2:09 a.m.

    Dude this IPad is going to totally ROCK dude. Jess
  • unholytriforce - January 28, 2010 1:58 a.m.

    The RTS and RPG aspect is extremely appealing, not to mention the fact that it would be easier to get online and play other people than the both the DS or the PSP combined.
  • g4m3rk1dd - January 28, 2010 1:56 a.m.

    throw some pokemon on their and u got a deal :P i dont kno i can consider this a mobile gaming device cuz if u do happen to buy 1 when it comes out...if u take it ANYWHERE ill bet the money u spent on it that u will get mugged =/ its just too damn big and expensive and every1 is already saying they want 1... stay at home with this 1 kids :P
  • sniper430 - January 28, 2010 1 a.m.

    I'd buy this if Starcraft was 100% remade
  • Grolsch - January 28, 2010 12:53 a.m.

    Once this price point drops, its a must buy. RTS will be great on this.

Showing 1-20 of 28 comments

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