The Evolution of Touchscreen Gaming

Posted by Shazy on Monday, February 28, 2011

The Evolution of Touchscreen Gaming
The Evolution of Touchscreen Gaming
Touchscreen gaming has never been bigger. The next 12 months could quite possibly see an unprecedented trio of new touch-sensitive portables hitting stores: the Nintendo 3DS, the Sony NGP, and (fingers crossed) a new iPad will all be vying to get their hands on your gaming fingers in the months to come. But while most gamers’ first exposure to playing games with their fingertips is likely to have been around 2004 with the all-conquering Nintendo DS, it was by no means the first touchscreen-equipped gaming device to hit the market.

VECTREX -- The short-lived Vectrex home game console was a curious beast. Boasting vector-based graphics, a huge game library and several cool tech features -- including a light-pen peripheral that players could use to manipulate objects on screen in certain art and music games -- it was somewhat ahead of its time. Sadly, that time was just before the great video game crash of 1983, which made quick work of the quirky system.
APPLE NEWTON -- Before there was the iPad, there was the Newton. Long, long before. About 17 years, actually, which amounts to several lifetimes in the tech world. One of the first touchscreen-equipped portables to be capable of playing simple games, it wasn’t much of a commercial success, but still retains a tiny-yet-committed fanbase.
GAME.COM -- Released in 1997, dedicated gaming portable had an impressive feature-set: a stylus, a touch-screen, twin cartridge slots, and an available modem that let it browse the web and send email. Less impressive was its twenty-strong catalog of games -- and less impressive still were its sales, thought to be under 300,000.
TAPWAVE ZODIAC -- Think 300,000 is paltry? The Zodiac did even worse. And in a lot of ways, it was a shame. Running the same operating system as Palm’s series of PDAs, the slick, curvy portable had ready access to a vast catalog of apps and games. Tech writers loved it, but nobody else did. After 18 months on the market, it was discontinued.
TABLET PC -- Essentially just a regular laptop that swapped a keyboard for a stylus-based touchscreen, Microsoft sank vast sums of money into pushing the tablet PC in the early part of the last decade. Perfect for strategy games, board games, and casual hits like Diner Dash, they were nevertheless too expensive and business-focused for gamers to take them seriously.
NINTENDO DS -- Although it was far from the first touchscreen gaming platform to hit stores, it was the DS that really caught the imagination of gamers and developers. Selling over 140 million units since its 2004 launch and still going strong, it’s second only to the Playstation 2 as the most successful game system of all time. A series of hardware refreshes have kept the platform current; the latest, due this March, will take the marque into the brave new world of stereoscopic 3D.
IPHONE -- Before the iPhone, gaming was an afterthought for many cellphone users. But once the App Store came along in 2008, throwing open the doors for small-time and big-league alike to make their fortunes selling 99-cent games to millions of eager consumers, the mobile gaming market exploded. Three years later, the iPhone is birthing its own mega-franchises: witness the cross-platform success of sales giant Angry Birds.
IPAD -- After the disappointment of Newton, Apple could have been forgiven for swearing off the tablet forever. Fortunately for its legion of fans, the success of the iPhone apparently convinced them to take another crack at it. The result: 15 million iPads sold last year, with gaming as a major focus. And with rumors of an upcoming iPad 2 announcement reaching feverish heights, that impressive total could be just the start.
SONY NGP -- Touchscreens on the front of your gaming portable? That’s so 1993. Sony’s next pocket-sized system, currently codenamed “Next Generation Portable” or NGP, puts a touch-sensitive pad on the machine’s reverse as well, and kits it out with just about every hot portable tech you can imagine. Latest word is to expect the machine in the U.S. this holiday season, priced around $300 depending on hardware options.
MICROSOFT SURFACE -- Welcome to the future. Perhaps. Microsoft’s “Surface” technology promises table-sized touchscreens that can recognize objects placed on them, respond to gestures as well as simple taps, and can be used by multiple people simultaneously. In short, they’ll play one heck of a game -- in the event they ever get beyond the tech-demo stage. Outside a few custom corporate apps (and a starring role in MSNBC’s 2008 election coverage), they’re still a pipe-dream for home users.
Read More:Yahoo