Gaming On A Mac? Why Not?

Posted on: 15 September 2017


One question has plagued Mac users since the day that Windows XP became the clear winner in PC (personal computer) gaming; why not play games on a Mac? The Apple II had plenty of great games, and even Windows users with 1980's and 1990's computer experience played a few games on the older Apple platforms, so what changed? To understand why gaming on a Mac isn't as accessible as on Windows-based computers, here are a few industry and technical facts, along with a few ways around the problem:

When Did Gaming Shift To PC, And Why?

It's all about languages. Programming languages such as C++, C#, Java, Ruby on Rails, HTML, and PHP all have their own rules for how programs are written, and what certain words perform certain actions.

When a game is written, it's done in a specific programming language. It also has to "speak" or work within the rules of the operating system (OS), such as Microsoft's windows, Apple's Mac OSX, or different types of Linux such as Wine, Ubuntu, Lime, or SUSE. It's often beyond a full-time job to write a game for one language and one operating system, let along multiple operating systems.

Why settle for one language over the other? Why Windows over anything else? During the peak of game development and sales in the 1990's, more people interested in games were purchasing Windows-based computers.

It's not just an issue of market share; whether because Microsoft saw the sales opportunity or already planned on pushing the project, they released a system called DirectX that delivered a set of game development tools to developers. This meant less hefty typing and understanding deep, scientific-level coding and more experimenting with creative techniques.

While Windows and Mac are both in the market of making computers easier for their customers, Windows was faster to make game development easier for developers. Some developers did and continue to release their games for Windows, Mac, and often other consoles, but the Mac users simply have a smaller selection and later adaptations because of a development war in the past.

Can Gaming Get Better On A Mac?

Mobile devices have changed certain layers of gaming by being more flexible with code. Not many phone users are aware that browsers such as Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox are also micro-operating systems in their own right. You're basically running a virtual computer inside those apps, and the same goes for the App stores/Play stores across the mobile device world.

That said, there is a difference between mobile games and bigger games (sometimes called AAA) games that demand a dedicated set of graphics hardware. Of the many ways to make a game, many developers want to take advantage of as much computer power as they can while retaining a player base, and PC gamers along with console gamers keep up that demand with high expectations.

Aside from the operating system, the hardware is the big dividing factor. The hardware also has to "speak" the OS language, and since games are coming out for windows, video card manufacturers have no reason to make gaming cards for Mac yet.

Until this changes, you can use a few techniques to play Windows games on mac. There are programs that "emulate' or act like a Windows machine inside your computer, or you can install Linux on your Mac computer. Wine is a popular Linux system that can play modern Windows game with a few configuration details.

Contact a Mac support professional to discuss gaming on Mac, as well as ways to enhance Mac performance with some aftermarket parts. Contact a company like Computer Help, Inc for more information and assistance.