On a quest for interesting literary or artistic iPad apps that make interesting use of the iPad’s specific interactive affordances—a search which proved more difficult than I might have imagined—I found a wonderful article by Tom Bissell analyzing a few iPad games. He examines how adaptations of existing games measure up to their originals, the fun factor of casual games, and looks at narrative approaches of “literary games.” It’s also one of the few resources that seems to recognize that different genres of games produce a different pleasurable experience; the ludologists and narratologists can find harmony at last.
For what it is worth, I have a hard time imagining a world in which narrative video games no longer exist, though I can quite readily imagine a world in which that type of game experience becomes something more like the entertainment norm. If this is the way things go, storytelling video games like Red Dead Redemption will be judged — properly, I think — as stories first. Meanwhile, the gamey game will flourish, too, most likely on the iPad and devices like it. These games may or may not have a light narrative overlay, but they will be judged — once again, properly — as games first.
The article is a great resource for anyone looking for a good list of iPad games, but it also gives interesting insight into the the different affordances of new types of interaction. Tablet gaming reminds us that technical constraints do shape gameplay and narrative, an idea that hasn’t been a focus since the last couple of generations of computer and console games solidified gaming genre conventions with enough processing power left over to channel efforts into making games more and more visually stunning.