iPawn Games bridge the gap between toys and digital games
Tablets – and the iPad in particular – are becoming such common household items that everything is getting integrated. Even plants. Toys haven’t escaped this either, and aside from the roughly half a million different tablet controlled RC toys out there now you have things like the Disney Cars racing app toys, Crayola’s crayon stylus etc etc. The latest entry into this market is iPawn Games, a set of accessories that just popped preorder on Firebox, the UK’s (and Europe’s) versions of the US based Thinkgeek. £10 buys you one of the sets (there are four but Firebox only has three of them) and you choose between Snakes and Ladders, Game of Goose and Fishing, with Air Hockey being the unavailable one. Each set of accessories has a free app that goes with it and together they create a game with external accessory input.
When you start the apps it warns you that it requires the accessories to use, but that’s just not the case. As with the Disney Cars toy, this is just another “peculiarly shaped stylus” to put it that way. In other words there’s no secret impressive technology that makes the toys interact with the screen, just material that has the same electrical properties as a finger or any other stylus. The apps are already available and all of them work perfectly fine with just a finger. If you do buy the accessory sets, the Fishing set will give you a fishing rode shaped stylus, the Game of Goose and Snakes and Ladders sets will give you some board game piece styli, and the Air Hockey set will give you some air hockey paddle shaped styli.
Whether or not that is worth £10 is completely up to you. I tried all the apps and they seem to be of good quality. Both the Air Hockey and Fishing apps can be easily played without the accessories, and might even be more fun that way. The board game sets however would benefit from having the pieces. The board game apps are “semi-stupid” in that there’s a virtual dice for you to “throw” and even some squares that give hints or animations when landed on, but it won’t care if you move the way the dice shows or not (not that I think it needs to). For £10 I think the board games are the most value for the money of the four and cheap enough to be stocking fillers as well. I like the idea, and it shows that you don’t need the ability to fly and have augmented reality camera modes to be a good toy accessory for the iPad (though it sure doesn’t hurt either).[Firebox]