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Digital Distractions: iPad Edition

iCade Cabinet (Game Room)If you’re prone to over-committing to summer travel and conferences, like I am, you might find yourself spending way too many hours in planes and airports. Despite my best intentions to get work done during long flights, I tend to instead play on my iPad.  I’m not the only ProfHacker who turns to my i-devices for digital distractions: Brian Croxall recommends the iOS version of deck-building game Ascension, Cory Bohon suggests the “Honey Badger Don’t Care” game, and Mark Sample recommends one of my favorite workout apps, Zombies, Run!

I’m very interested in what’s happening with books gone mobile, and some of these “distractions” translate to new ideas for my classroom and projects. Here are a few of the apps that have gotten me through summer travel–and showcase some different ideas for what mobile entertainment can do:

  • iPoe (Play Creatividad, iOS) has a special place in my virtual library as a Baltimore native. Each of the two volumes has a few of Edgar Allen Poe’s classics re-interpreted for the touch interface. These apps are worth it for the illustrations and animations alone.  There’s also interactivity, which is disturbingly appropriate in “The Tell-Tale Heart.” iPoe is a great example of what a born-digital edition of a classic an look like.

  • Cognition (Phoenix Online Studios, iOS) is the first episode of a new adventure game launched through a Kickstarter campaign. Adventure games are heavily story-driven: it’s possible to die, but mostly you play as FBI agent Erica Reed hunting a serial killer and using psychic abilities to solve the mystery. It’s still rare to find games with this strong of a woman as protagonist, and the soundtrack sets a perfect creepy mood.

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown (iOS, 2K Games/ Firaxis) is proof that mobile devices can now offer the type of gaming that used to be solely on computers and consoles. This game is an experiment–it’s priced at $19.99 currently, which is very high for an app–in porting a full high-quality tactical turn-based game to a mobile device. If you have a recent iOS device and a fondness for alien invasions, this is a surprisingly thoughtful and complex mobile game.

  • Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! (iOS, inkle / Steve jackson) brings an old-school role-playing game model to the iPad. It’s basically an interactive text with opportunities to make meaningful choices that impact your character’s progress through a fantasy world. This is also a great example if you’re interested in working with inklewriter to create choose your own adventure stories.

What are you playing and reading on mobile this summer? Share your favorite “distractions” in the comments!

[CC BY 2.0 Photo by Flickr User Rob Boudon]

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