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Apple Gaming: It's Not Just Archon and Castle Wolfenstein Anymore

For the past two years, the big story at MacWorld has been, surprisingly, games. Who’da thunk it? In ‘98, John Carmack shocked the pants off the gaming community by showing off Quake 3 Arena running on a G3 and giving hesitant praise to Apple and their new system. Even more amazing was the initial Quake 3 test which emerged a few months later: for Mac only! At long last, Mac fans were able to have a good, long laugh at their PC brethren. This past year at MacWorld, while the main focus of the show was supposed to be on the iBook, Apple’s portable, edible laptop, Bungie Software quietly stole the show. The candy-flavored computer’s thunder was thoroughly grounded by the world’s first public look at Halo, which may become one of the greatest games of the next century.

While the trusty Mac has proven itself time and time again to be a more stable computer than the Windows-powered PC, games just have never been forthcoming. Some folks point to the first days of the Mac when, concerned that people might mistake the Mac for a toy, an unofficial corporate edict declared computer games persona non grata. Others suggest that the lack of software arises from the smaller number of Macs available, the difficulty of creating Mac software and the general attitude that Mac users aren’t really gamers.

Whatever the case, the Mac is slowly coming into its own as a gaming platform. Tim Sweeney, the man behind the Unreal engine, feels that Apple is as much to thank for the current turn-around in Mac gaming as the publishers and developers. “They've been putting out some really cool products that are good for gamers, such as the low-cost iMac's, while all the high-end Macs have 3D acceleration.”

Al Schilling, product manager at MacSoft (publishers of Mac versions of Unreal and Unreal Tournament) sees things in a similar light. “There has been an upswing in Mac hardware purchases (fueled primarily by the success of the iMac). This has resulted in a higher profile for the Mac. Second, Apple has really made an effort to make the Mac a good gaming platform. G3 and G4 processors, along with built-in accelerators, make the new crop of Macs great gaming machines right out of the box.”

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