No one imagined that Apple would ever go into the video game space. Macs have long been criticized for their lack of games, and Windows has long been the system of choice for advanced PC gaming. But if you believe the hype, Apple’s iPhone is a potential “game changer” in video gaming.

The iPhone is both well suited—and hamstrung—with respect to games. Its lack of tactile buttons—depending entirely on multitouch for keypresses—makes it a less satisfying experience than, say, a Sony PSP. However, its inclusion of an accelerometer gives it some of the “outside-of-the-box” vision that made the Nintendo’s Wii controllers (also accelerometer-enhanced) so popular.

Now, don’t expect people to start swinging their iPods around to play virtual table tennis—at least, not yet. The lack of a high-speed video output capability and a standard method of attaching accessories prevents the iPhone from being an immediate replacement for your Wii. But the handheld personal nature of the device, its virtually unlimited offboard storage (i.e., the Internet), and its geoconnected features are already inspiring startups to go after location-enabled “social gaming” concepts. And the multitouch screen, though bad for buttons, is good for new control modalities’such as drawing lines or “chording” multiple touch points—and games built around these new control paradigms are in the offing.

But one of the unsung opportunities for the iPhone is not to go forward into the new, but to emulate ...

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