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iPontificateI Want My gMac!

by - October 15th, 2004

I recently started working for a new client in the publishing industry. My job is to help the IT manager, who is versed in the ways of Windows, keep about ten Macs running smoothly in the company's production area. Now, the IT manager is a good guy, and to protect his identity I will refer to him here as Skeeter.

Skeeter and I hit it off right away when I found out he is a big gamer, even if he plays his games on a Windows machine. In fact, he invited me over to his house where he sometimes holds LAN parties for he and his buddies. I immediately accepted, then asked if all his friends use laptops or is he so generous that he provides game machines for everyone.

He laughed and then told me that they were such hardcore gaming nerds that they each have big cases for their towers that house their accessories and keyboards and they actually haul them around for their tourneys.

I immediately quit.

Okay, so I didn't quit, but I couldn't believe this. These dudes are hardcore. These guys are playing the latest games on the latest hardware, and like a professional pool player, they bring their own stick.

I would like now to apologize to my new employer for fabricating a funny name for him in this column and then using it only once in the subsequent sentence.

Anyway, those LAN parties got me thinking of the potential the new iMac could have in this area. Years ago, when the original iMac came out, my business partner and I co-wrote a column for TMO as The Idiots about a Mac we envisioned called the gMac. The gMac was an iMac built specifically to gamer's specs. We had all kinds of goofy ideas of how Apple should market the gMac then, and I have some ideas now.

The first advantage the new gMac would have is its form factor. An all-in -one flat unit would be a lot easier to carry than a complete Windows system, assuming that laptops don't have the power yet to be great game machines. I am sure that someone is already working on a carrying case for the new iMac. A wide bag to accommodate the iMac's foot would be the only real design issue that I can see, but then again I don't design bags. Apple just needs to make it an option when purchasing a gMac.

Another thing they need to make a build-to-order option is a decent gaming video card. If that was an option right now, I would pay an extra couple of hundred bucks to upgrade. In fact, I believe that the video card is the one thing that Apple skimped on with the new iMac. Yeah, yeah, I know there is only 256 MB of RAM, but at least you can upgrade the memory.

It always seems to me that Apple releases brand new models with one obvious omission that won't affect most users but always gets hammered in the press. The "wow factor" overrides this weakness at first. Then, six months later, when it comes time for a product revision, Apple fixes whatever the press complained about, ensuring a boost in sales based on the glowing reviews for a feature that should have been there in the first place. Freakin' ingenious!

Anyway, the video card needs to be upgraded in the new gMac or a more powerful one needs to be available as an option. I will admit that the video card in the current iMac is sufficient for most things, it just isn't cutting edge for serious gaming.

Apple could offer several gaming packs as options as well, like a Racer's Pack, which might come with two or three of the latest driving sims bundled with a USB steering wheel. Or a First Person Shooter's pack, that comes with a couple of killer titles and a third-party multi-button mouse.

Wait, you say! Maybe Apple will develop its own multi-button scroll wheel mouse. Yeah, and maybe Steve Jobs will have a double cheeseburger for dinner tomorrow night. Of course he won't! He'll have the usual, probably some sprouts with some kind of cress and some hippie juice. And a one-button mouse on the side.

I know that some of you are thinking, "If I was that much into gaming I would probably just buy a PC for games." But there are tons of great games for the Mac. Not as many as for Windows, of course, but most major titles come to the Mac and a lot come pretty quickly as well. When I asked Skeeter (okay, I used the name twice now) what games he and his friends were playing now, only one was not currently available for the Mac.

Apple has an opportunity to sell iMacs to gamers, if they would only market a high-end iMac as a great option for gaming. There are lot of folks out there that want to play games, but aren't so fanatic about that they will buy a piece of hardware for just that. Even a PS2 seems frivolous to a lot of people who don't give a second thought to firing up Unreal Tournament on their Mac. Why? Because their Mac also helps them be productive and they are already sitting in front of it. The TV is way in the other room.

Apple, please make a more expensive 20-inch iMac with a lot of memory and a wicked fast video card with a lot of add-ons that I can choose from so I can give more of my money to you, thus increasing your profit margins.

That doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it?

is an Idiot. He is the co-founder of IWS Interactive, a New York (and now Houston) based development company for Macintosh. Now he spends his time writing about, developing for, and getting clients to buy Macs. Oh, yeah, and he recently had a kid. So his days are filled with taking care of little Jack, then playing with his Mac. He wouldn't have it any other way.

You can send your comments directly to Gary, or you can also post your comments below.

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