The debate: will touchscreen gaming take over?
Says touchpad-tickling aficionado Phil Iwaniuk
Shhh. You hear that? That’s the future, barrelling towards you like a faithful labrador, and it’s bringing touchscreen gaming between its jaws. Don’t believe me? Take the screen-smearing success story of Fruit Ninja – a game with one control – which earned itself 20 million downloads in its first year of release. That’s the kind of number that even blockbuster shooters with TV ad campaigns would be happy with. The industry simply can’t ignore that.
And as gamers we can’t be snobby about it, either. Sure, we’ve defeated entire armies and won the Champions League with Levski Sofia – giving ourselves RSI in the process – but games have evolved with our increasing skill level to offer us greater challenges. We didn’t start our careers gleefully mashing 80-button combos, and just as the simplicity of 8-bit games hooked in the current generation of gamers, touchscreen games are doing the same for a new generation.
So touch controls won’t make button-pressing obsolete – but they’ll grow within the areas where it makes sense to use them. Games such as Unit 13 take advantage of Vita’s controlset smartly to enhance your gaming joy, but in other games the touchscreen is unnecessary. You can bet on one thing, though: just like with 3D, the gaming industry’s invested in touchscreen hardware and technology too much for it to be a flash in the pan.
Argues smudgy- screen hater Dave Meikleham
First they take our jobs, then it’s our bloody buttons. Curse those pesky forward-thinking folk who embrace change like it was Gemma Arterton in a bikini made entirely of 100-quid notes. Give these types an inch and… well, they won’t so much take a mile as force us to play the next Tomb Raider on Vita entirely through semi-sensual rear-touchpad groping.
Touchscreen controls aren’t cooked up because developers think they’re reaching out and bottling the magma-hot, progressive future of gaming. No. They’re shunting in ‘intuitive finger-swipes’ because they think modern gamers are the sort of barely sentient pondlife who struggle to dress themselves without suffering a dim-witted hernia, let alone master a 36-button finisher with a green, hotpants-wearing monstrosity in SF IV.
With nary but the DualShock’s face buttons, I’ve scaled virtual mountains. My good pal square has slain countless probe-happy alien buggers. I’ve set record laps around the Nürburgring in a Nissan Skyline with R1. And what about the time me and Mr X shouted “JASON!!!” roughly 14 squillion times while searching for a French-sounding sprog and his balloon? Vita’s buttons are up to those tasks.
Indulge the idea of touchscreen gaming in place of old school controls, and you’re encouraging the sort of nonsense that’ll see the beautiful Vita saddled with dumbed-down shovelware.