PC Gamer's guide to gaming on a Mac

Mac Guide Low Shot

Keyboards, mice, and gamepads on the Mac

Apple’s multi-touch trackpad and Magic Mouse let you flick through web pages and multiple desktops in OS X by performing various swipes of your fingers. It’s a great tool for general computer use but trackpads in general aren’t that useful in PC games, and the Magic Mouse is a hinderance rather than a benefit, although there are a select few games specifically written for the Mac that take advantage of it.

To play FPS games, real-time strategy, or anything that needs precision use of the right click or middle mouse wheel, it’s better to plug in a standard USB mouse.

If you have a mouse or keyboard with extra functions and buttons, you can be 100% sure they’ll work just fine on a Mac in Boot Camp mode. As with game developers, peripheral manufacturers design for Windows first, and OS X is more of afterthought, although the Mac is far harder to ignore than it once was.

OS X support really depends on whether the device vendor has ported support across. The bigger peripheral firms have it covered. Logitech has a version of its Control Center software for OS X. Razer’s Synapse software is available of the Mac. That said, there’s no guarantee of compatibility.

If you want to play arcade-style games, such as the recent OS X release of Geometry Wars 3, it’s fairly easy to connect an Xbox or Playstation joypad to a Mac, as it is with a PC. With a PS4 joypad, all you need to do is plug in the Micro-USB cable it comes with and OS X will detect it automatically, and it should work fine.

Using an Xbox joypad needs a bit more work though. According to useful info on TekRevue you need a third-party driver called Xone-OSX which is found on Github.

Wrapping up

The number of games available on OS X is limited compared with the vast library available for Windows. But as long as your Mac is powerful enough, you’ll have just as much fun exploring dungeons in Legends Of Grimrock, mining Veldspar in Eve Online or defending your spaceship in FTL: Faster Than Light, as you would on a Windows PC.

Computing is far more heterogeneous than it was a decade ago, when Microsoft Windows completely dominated the market, and people may be invested in a range of platforms, with iOS and Android as well as OS X joining Windows as viable modern gaming platforms.

Just like PCs, Mac hardware has its positives and negatives, but Apple isn’t going anywhere and more game developers are now taking notice of the platform and the new audience it gives them. While there’s still some way to go, and OS X could be a lot more friendly to gamers than it is currently, you still have plenty of options for Mac gaming.

Page 1: Introduction to Mac gaming
Page 2: Mac hardware and buying advice
Page 3: Mac gaming on OS X
Page 4: Running Windows games on a Mac
Page 5: Keyboards, mice, and gamepads on Mac