Five tips to maximize your mobile gaming experience

Jan 20, 2012

With thousands upon thousands of games in the iTunes App Store, there is no lack of great gameplay experiences. This is true whether you are a hardcore gamer or just looking to casually kill some time. But the gaming experience on your iOS devices can be made a whole lot better with just a few […]

With thousands upon thousands of games in the iTunes App Store, there is no lack of great gameplay experiences. This is true whether you are a hardcore gamer or just looking to casually kill some time.

But the gaming experience on your iOS devices can be made a whole lot better with just a few simple tips. Maximizing battery life to keep your games going longer, providing yourself with the right hardware to make games more enjoyable, and taking advantage of all your iOS device has to offer is just a matter of knowing what’s available. Our five tips below will help you get the most out of gaming on your iPhone, iPad or iPad Touch.

1. Maximize your battery life

With a quick trip to your iPhone or iPad’s settings menu, you can make a few adjustments that will allow you to get maximum playtime out of your games in between phone recharges. Open the Settings app and find the option for brightness. There, you can adjust the brightness of your screen to a comfortable level; the lower the brightness, the more life you can get out of a single battery charge. Shutting down apps running in the background by double-clicking your device’s home button is also a good way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your battery. When you’re gaming on a battery budget, it’s best to keep your device from having to deal with any other functions or tasks so it can put all its power and battery life into playing.

2. Go for Wi-Fi

Another good way to save battery on your iPhone is to switch off your phone’s 3G data connectivity when you know you don’t need it. Games that support OpenFeint or Game Center will still function as normal in offline mode – which means you can still snag achievements and store your scores locally – without needing to waste battery or your data plan staying connected to the network. You’ll also get a much better experience in online and multiplayer games if you can find a Wi-Fi connection over a 3G one. Wi-Fi is ideal, but if you don’t have access to it and depending on the game, a 3G connection might be better than nothing.

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3. Find some quality controls

Touchscreen controls can be a massive pain in some games. While plenty of App Store titles use the iPhone or iPad’s internal hardware like the accelerometer or gyroscope to make for some interesting motion-based controls, there are many more games that are much more traditional. They put virtual buttons on the screen, and those buttons control your characters’ movements and abilities, just like any video game. Touchscreen controls are often fickle and tough to play with because of the lack of a tactile response that you would get from a physical button. But there are ways to add physical buttons to your play experience. We saw tons of interesting Bluetooth gamepads that can be added to iPhones at the Consumer Electronics Show 2012 in Las Vegas this month. As well, other alternatives like the iPad arcade cabinet iCade or the Fling Joystick line for the iPhone and iPadallow you to add real controls to your device. For many gamers, the right controls can mean becoming a better player.

4. Sound matters

Though the built-in speakers on the iPhone and iPad aren’t the greatest, sound design in iOS games can often be very, very good. Titles such as Dark Meadow, Dead Space and N.O.V.A. 2 use sound to make the experience more immersive, the game spookier, and the combat more intense. Some games have console video game-caliber audio design and create a stereo experience that will have you turning left and right in the game to look for the sources of sounds. Just understand that you lose that sense of depth and immersion when you don’t have the right equipment. The ear buds that come with your iPhone or iPad will do in a pinch, but it’s recommended you get ahold of a comfortable, better-quality pair of headphones to really allow games like Groove Coaster or the Tap Tap Revenge titles reach their full potential.

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5. Make some friends

Game Center, OpenFeint and other services make it possible for iOS gamers to enjoy the kinds of online communities that make console games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 so popular. You can actually make friends online to game with, and the iOS gaming experience is a lot better for it. A good way to start: Pick your favorite Game Center titles and try to place on their leaderboards. Cruise the boards for players near your rank and shoot them a message and a challenge, because just about every game is a lot more fun when you have a little competition. There are also games that support online cooperative play, titles that let you team up with a buddy and take on other players, and plenty of games in which you can just go straight-up head-to-head with a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Another handy way to build your friends list is to use games that integrate with Facebook. Words With Friends can get you playing against your Facebook friends on your iPhone, which is a good jumping-off point for other multiplayer games, be they casual or hardcore.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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