“Welcome to Game-aholics Anonymous. As it’s your first session, please introduce yourself”…
“Hi, I’m [your name here…], and I’m a game-aholic”.
Yep, the first step is to admit to it and like any addict I’m constantly looking for my next fix. So much so that I went down a dark path, a path so dark it is frowned upon by the gaming community as a whole. Gaming on a Mac.
Apple products aren’t renowned for their gaming prowess. They’re often associated with hipsters or the artistically enhanced (or challenged, depending on how you look at it); the likes of music producers and graphic designers. The internet is a wonderful place, and its full of hilarious memes and parody videos roasting those that decide that an Apple product – whether that’s an iMac, Mac Pro or a MacBook variant – should be their primary gaming device.
I’ve got a MacBook Pro myself, and by no means did I purchase it to play games on but I certainly didn’t get it to use as a mouse mat for my gaming PC! I work in IT, and as part of that I’m often asked to manage or install Apple networks. The most common installation project I have is setting up iPads within educational environments. The constant use of Apple Classroom and Apple Configurator forced my hand a little into getting one. It was a bit of a dick-move that the company I work for wouldn’t buy me one, but I needed a decent laptop at the time too so it made sense that I went down the OSX root. I’ve got plenty of consoles and a fully fledged windows PC to enjoy, so the thought of gaming on this thing never really entered my mind.
Here’s why it’s OK to game on a Mac.
“They just work!”
The classic line said by almost everyone that owns a Mac of some description. It’s often a defensive argument when people ask why they didn’t spend half the money on an equal performing Windows computer. There is some sense to this though and Macs do run rather efficiently but there are a few reasons for this. The Mac OS is nowhere near as locked down as it’s mobile counterpart yet it retains all of its simplicity. OSX take up only 11% of the operating market share, with Windows taking up over 80% (They’re official stats by the way! I know, I’m surprised with myself as well). Now, if I was a computer virus programmer, I’d certainly aim at the larger market share, as there’s much more chance of infecting a host than if I was to target just 11% of devices. Obviously, the fact that OSX is built on top of Unix – which is also what Linux and Ubuntu is built around – helps in that it’s much harder to target in terms of infections and malware. But yeah, it really does just work. I’m not going to over-bore you all with the technical reasons, just take my word for it. I’ve had mine for nearly 5 years, I’ve never had a Windows laptop for much longer than 3 orbits of the sun before it was in need of replacing.
There are actually loads of games
Surprisingly, there are more games available for Apple computers than you may realise. I discovered this when I installed Steam onto my MacBook. I logged into my account only to find that over 60% of my library was available on Mac systems. The dedicated App Store is full of games as well, the more recent titles aren’t as plentiful, but there are plenty of classics. As I type this, the likes of Batman: Arkham City, XCOM 2, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Napoleon: Total War, Borderlands: The Pre-sequell, The Sims 3, Doom 3 and even Star Wars: The Knights Of The Old Republic II are in the charts.
Macs can actually be quite powerful
Mine, is a run-of-the-mill 2011 model. It’s got an Intel i7 processor, 8Gb RAM and a 1GB graphics card. I doesn’t have the retina display that the new models have, but the graphics still looks crisp on it’s 13” screen. I always planned on ripping out the CD drive and replacing it with an SSD, but I never got round to it. The built-in HDD is pretty speedy itself, but that’s likely down to the software/firmware rather than the hard-drive itself. Of course, it isn’t meant for gaming, and was never bought for gaming. Despite this, it still manages to play plenty of titles on max settings. I’ve had an absolute ball playing Call Of Duty: 2 again and it actually looks great! As good as a 2005 game can be. It looks much better than I remember in on Xbox 360, but these are quite literally PC quality graphics. Civilisation V looks really nice and doesn’t lag or suffer from framerate drop-outs. It hasn’t been all plain sailing though, I struggled to play some parts of the Total War games on max and often just left it around the medium mark with a lower render distance too. It wasn’t ideal, as seeing the approaching enemy is quite a big thing in an RTS.
My favourite game to play on my MacBook is – without a doubt – Left 4 Dead 2. It runs flawlessly on the highest settings and works really well with either a mouse/keyboard combo or a controller.
You can still use a controller
It might not have built-in drivers for such items, like Windows has for their Xbox controller but there are plenty of slimline third-party apps that can help. I use the TattieBogle OSX driver available here. The creator also has a similar program for Playstation 3 controllers if you’re interested. What a guy!
Using a controller effectively turns your laptop into a console-type system; that has it’s own built-in monitor and using a controller with the MacBook is no different. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sitting on trains on my way to work conferences, whilst slicing up zombies with samurai swords as I leave the station. I also went on a short midweek break with my girlfriend a few months ago and I packed my MacBook and controller. It was a slight annoyance that she was there really, as she was more of a third wheel. I plugged my MacBook into the TV in the room and spent most of the evenings rekindling my love for COD2. Romance certainly isn’t dead!
I’m joking of course, we had a lovely time. I took the MacBook so we could watch a few films together. The controller? It must have somehow fallen into my bag… how peculiar.
I don’t see any difference between gaming on a MacBook and gaming on a Windows laptop. There’s literally no disparity at all other than the available titles. All things being equal hardware-wise, the MacBook could actually out perform its Windows counterpart. Yup, I’ve said it.
I recently wrote a blog post about the whole ‘Xbox VS Playstation’ saga called Console Wars: Attack Of The Trolls. In it, I discussed how only idiots argue for console/platform superiority and I think that the same can be said here. At the end of the day, a video game is a video game, whether that be on Windows or OSX. You’re still going to get the same level of entertainment regardless of how you plan on playing it. A true gamer does exctly that – games. Irrespective of what he or she is gaming on, the same (or atleast largely similar) experience is had.
So feel free to shutdown the haters and push back the trolls. If you play games on a Mac, you’re alright in my eyes. Personally, I’d always choose Windows over OSX, but it’s nice to know that the functionality is there if ever I so desire it.
Just don’t tell my boss at work I’ve got Age Of Empires III minimised in the background. #Wololo