GamePal for the Mac Gal

by Debbie Ginsberg

I'm going to kill my husband. I have a lot of things I need to do, and yet he's got me chasing some kind of Kobold all over creation. It's not going well.



"This thing is about to kill me!"

"Calm down. Try using that new attack you learned back in town."

"It's not working! He's tearing me apart! I'm gonna die and ... oh wait. He's dead. Now what?'

"Come over here. There's a quest we can do."

"OK. Ahhh!"

"Are you being attacked again?"

"No, I ran into a wall and now I'm stuck."

Thanks to him, I'm now addicted to World of Warcraft. On the Mac, no less. It's not easy being a Mac gamer, but it sure is fun.

What's this? Games on a Mac? Games everyone else is playing? Lots of people will tell you that's not possible. They're wrong. I'm not going to tell you that a Mac can play as many games as a PC, but plenty of games are available to keep even an avid gamer occupied on this neat little platform..

Now, I admit I'm a bit biased. I've been using Macs since my first SE from way back in 1987. Up to that point, I'd been playing silly ASCII games on an IBM PC (whee! A green and black monitor!). Admittedly, the ASCII version of Pacman was kind of fun, but only because my parents never got us an Atari. When I finally got the Mac, I was ecstatic to finally play games which didn't base their graphical components heavily on the "@" sign.

Classic Mac games were a wonderful bunch. We had Crystal Quest, where players were a little space ship collecting crystals while trying to dodge various nasty aliens. The sound effects were the best part. There was Arkanoids, a Break Out style game with bonus bricks that gave players special powers, including lasers and multiple balls. In Glider, one of the worst time-wasters, players flew a small paper airplane past all kinds of different household hazards, like leaping fish. And, of course, we had Tetris and Klondike Solitaire (remember when you had never seen a card game on a computer before?).

The 1990s brought us all kinds of new Mac games, with faster graphics and more complicated game play. Some of the best included Marathon, Myst, and one heck of a lot of Sim products (SimAnt, anyone?). The Net, both pre and post that first Mosaic browser, provided plenty of free- and shareware games, such as Solarian II and Asshole Tetris.

Even today, Mac users can play plenty of games, like Spiderman 2 or Airburst Extreme. The Net is full of sites, such as Inside Mac Games, with the latest news of upcoming releases and reviews all kinds of games. But if you're going to be a Mac gamer, be prepared for a few frustrations.

The worst problem, of course, is that not everything comes out on the Mac. City of Heroes, for example, is likely to never be available to Mac users. Which sucks, because I really want to play that game. I'd pay money and everything.

Almost as annoying is many PC games are only released for the Mac months after the original. By the time I was playing Neverwinter Nights, most of my friends had finished with it and had moved on to other games. And even I wasn't going to wait to play Knights of the Old Republic on my laptop, not when I had an XBox.

One other source of frustration, at least when playing modern games on a Mac, is that they are designed for PC players. Specifically, they are designed for the PC mouse. Personally, I don't like to use mice at all bugs my wrist and all that. At home, I use my laptop's trackpad. At work, where I have an XP machine, I generally use a trackball instead of a mouse.

But games like World of Warcraft don't work too well with trackpads. So I had to learn to use a multi-button mouse to play games, which wasn't as easy as it sounds. Because I'm not used to playing games with that all important "right click", I spent my first 10 or so levels on WoW running into walls and dying a lot. And yelling at my poor husband.

Good thing we're on a PVP server. If it comes to it, I can exact revenge on him anytime I want.

Still, I'm having lots of fun. I can play classic games in OS9, then switch to the more modern toys in OS X. And if I don't want to download stuff to my hard drive, the Net offers all kinds of games, from Yahoo's Java-based games (let me know if you want to play Literati some time) to the extremely addicting Weboggle. So if you've been thinking about switching over to the light side where you don't have to be terrified of your own email don't put it off just because you love games. A few annoyances aside, there's plenty to keep a Mac gamer addicted for hours.

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.