Up and Running with Game Center

iOS 4.1 includes Apple’s new social game service called Game Center. It only takes a few steps to get up and running, and it uses your existing Apple ID, so you don’t have to set up another social network account.

Game Center is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, as well as every iPod touch except for the first generation model. If you have a compatible iPhone or iPod touch, the Game Center app will be available after you install the iOS 4.1 update.

Game Center’s login screen

Here’s how to get started with Game Center:

  • Tap the Game Center icon on your iPhone or iPod touch to launch the app.
  • Enter your Apple ID password and tap Sign In.
  • Choose the country you live in, then tap Next.
  • Enter your birthdate and tap Next.
  • You need to agree to Apple’s Game Center terms and conditions. It’s a seven page document, and you can email it to yourself if you want a copy for reading later.
  • Next, you need to create your Nickname. Your friends can use this along with your email address to find you and send a friend request.
  • Invitations to play games are on by default, but you can change that in Game Center Settings. You can also add other email addresses for your friends to find you by. You’ll get a verification email for each address you add. It includes a link to a confirmation page on Apple’s Web site where you’ll have to enter your Apple ID and password to complete the process.

Extra email addresses make it easier for friends to find you

Once you activate your Game Center account, you’ll want to add some friends to play against. To add Game Center friends, do this:

  • Tap the Friends button in the Game Center app.
  • Now tap the plus button in the upper right corner to add a friend.
  • Enter the email addresses or Game Center names of the friends you want to add, then tap Send.
  • Your friends will get a request notification that they can accept or decline. If all goes well, they’ll accept your invitation.
  • If someone sends you a Game Center friend request, you’ll see it in the Requests section.

You can find friends by email or Game Center Nickname

Finding Games to Play
There’s a good chance that you don’t have any Game Center-compatible games on your iPhone or iPod touch, so you’ll have to go hunting to find something to play. You can find Game Center-compatible titles by searching for “Game Center” at Apple’s App Store in iTunes or in the App Store app on your iPhone or iPod touch.

The list of Game Center-ready apps is fairly short right now, although a few notable titles such as Angry Birds, FieldRunners, and Real Racing are ready to go. Supported games should show up under the Games section in Game Center, although shortly after the iOS 4.1 update was released, nothing was showing in the app’s Games list.

Assuming you can find any Game Center-compatible games to play, you can choose them from the Games list, and then select which friends you want to play with. Both people must have the same game installed to be able to play together.

Like other services Apple launches, Game Center seems to be a little limited. Assuming it follows in the footsteps of services like the iTunes Store and the App Store, however, it will likely gain steam and grow quickly.